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PROGRESSIVE

KAIZEN
The Key to Gaining a
Global Competitive Advantage

PROGRESSIVE
KAIZEN
The Key to Gaining a
Global Competitive Advantage

JOHN W. DAVIS

Productivity Press
Taylor & Francis Group
270 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10016
2011 by Taylor and Francis Group, LLC
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Contents
List of Figures................................................................................... xi
List of Tables................................................................................... xiii
Preface...............................................................................................xv
Acknowledgments...........................................................................xxv
Introduction................................................................................. xxvii
1

Examining the Basics of an Effective Kaizen Process..................1


Matter of Misguided Pragmatism............................................................ 15
Two Major Dos and Donts of Kaizen......................................................16
Evaluating and Rating a Companys Kaizen Efforts..................................17
Developing a Formal Schedule for Kaizen...............................................19
Assigning a Qualified Full-Time Lean/Kaizen Coordinator..............20
Establishing a Formal Budget for Kaizen..........................................21
Number and Type of Kaizen Events Conducted......................................22
Scope of Kaizen Training..........................................................................23
Overview of Various Types of Kaizen......................................................23
Progressive Kaizen Initiative......................................................................28
Precisely What the Term Event Means...........................................28
Purpose and Scope of Progressive Kaizen Effort.....................................30
Ensuring Planned Changes Are Carried Out to the Fullest......................30
Production Managers Role in a Kaizen Event..........................................32
Key Summary Points..................................................................................33
Elevating the Use and Effectiveness of Kaizen.................................33
The Four Types of Progressive Kaizen..............................................33
Developing a Master Plan for Kaizen................................................33
Developing a Formal Budget for Kaizen...........................................34
Applied Purpose of a Kaizen Event..................................................34
Progressive Kaizen Initiative..............................................................34

2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

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Addressing Key Roles and Supporting Tactics...........................35


Clearing the Five-Inch Hazard...................................................................35
Taking a Close Look at the Distribution of Change.................................36
Plant Managers Role in Lean.....................................................................38
Characteristics of Lean-Oriented Plant Managers.....................................41
Lean Coordinator.......................................................................................43
Maintenance Manager................................................................................44
F Alliance...................................................................................................44
Lean-Oriented Company President...........................................................45
Shop Floor Supervisors Role in Kaizen....................................................48
Special Consideration of Owner-Operators...........................................52
Value of Inserting a WRAP Initiative........................................................53
Tactics for Getting the Best Results Out of Kaizen..................................56
How to Use the Step Charts..............................................................57
Key Summary Points..................................................................................60

Avoiding the Typical Pitfalls.......................................................63


Allowing Outside Assistance to Cloud a Path to Success.........................64
Misstep of Excluding Office Functions..................................................... 67
A Special Word about Lean and a Companys Financial Arm..........69
Allowing Kaizen Accomplishments to Deteriorate...................................70
Failure to Communicate the Full Extent and Scope of Kaizen................74
Failure to Effectively Utilize the Production Engineering Function.........76
Failure to Restructure the Stated Objectives of Key Players.....................79
Production Managers Stated Objectives...................................................80
Shop Floor Supervisors Stated Objectives................................................82
Production Engineers Stated Objectives...................................................83
Error of Putting Lean in a Stand-By Mode...............................................84
First.....................................................................................................84
Second................................................................................................85
The Dos and Donts Associated with Kaizen...........................................86
Definite Dos.......................................................................................86
Definite Donts...................................................................................87
Preferable Dos....................................................................................87
Preferable Donts................................................................................88
Simple Exercise for Getting the Most Out of Any Kaizen Effort..............88
Key Summary Points..................................................................................89
Staying Focused..................................................................................89
Avoiding Slippage...............................................................................90

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Contents vii

Putting Lean Duties in Writing..........................................................90


Various Versions of a Process............................................................90
Removing Problems and Enhancing Individual Performance..........90
Vital Role of Production Engineering................................................91
4

Where to Start and How to Proceed...........................................93


Thinking Outside the Box.........................................................................93
Sum of the Added Cost and Payback of Lean..........................................94
Progressive Kaizen Tool Box.....................................................................96
Advantages of Labeling Kaizen Activity Waste Reduction...................100
Value of Putting the First Pull Zone in Final Assembly.......................103
Sticking to the Plan and Avoiding Disruptions.......................................106
Conducting the Factorys First High-Impact Kaizen Event..................... 107
Basic Event Objectives.....................................................................108
Participation of the Production Manager.........................................108
Participation of Shop Floor Supervisors.......................................... 111
Participation of a Key Maintenance Representative........................ 111
Participation of Key Production Associates..................................... 112
Participation of the Production Engineering Manager and Staff.... 113
Participation of Salaried Employees Detached from Production.... 114
Participation of Local Union Officials.............................................. 114
Preparatory, Wrap-Up, and Follow-Up Aspects of a HighImpact Kaizen Event........................................................................ 118
Basic Structure and Steps Involved in Conducting a HighImpact Kaizen Event........................................................................ 119
Getting the Most Out of Training and Implementation Kaizen............. 121
Modifying the Rules for the Purchase of New Equipment.............124
Planned Frequency of Training and Implementation Kaizen
Events................................................................................................125
Driving the Use of Problem Resolution Kaizen......................................126
Applying the Science of 5-W...........................................................127
How to Conduct a Problem Resolution Event........................................128
Essential Tools Utilized in a Problem Resolution Event......................... 131
Keeping the Principles of Uninterrupted Flow and Workplace
Organization in Mind...............................................................................132
Understanding the Role and Scope of Sustaining Kaizen......................133
Implementing a WRAP Initiative............................................................. 135
When to Start a WRAP Initiative..................................................... 135
Planning Phase Considerations........................................................ 135

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viii Contents

Typical Hurdles to Clear...................................................................138


Summary Overview of the Process.........................................................139
Communicating and Tracking Results.............................................139
Training First-Line Supervisors................................................................ 142
Key Summary Points................................................................................ 142
5

Other Key Facets of Getting the Most Out of Kaizen............... 145


Advancing the Role of Owner-Operator to Lean Equipment
Specialist................................................................................................. 145
Where LE Specialists Should Be Considered.................................. 146
Pay Structure for a Lean Equipment Specialist Classification......... 147
Percentage of Workforce Holding the Classification.......................148
Lean Equipment Apprentice Training.............................................. 149
Conducting an Annual Structured Lean Audit........................................ 152
Sharing the Results of the Audit with the Workforce..................... 153
Building in Essential Visual Controls...................................................... 154
Constructing a Master Kaizen Plan......................................................... 156
Vendor Certification................................................................................. 157
Ten Commandments of a Fully Supportive Maintenance Function....... 159
Briefly Addressing the Cost and Payback of Lean Again.......................160
Ten Most Important Factors to Keep in Mind......................................... 161
Phase One: Setting the Stage................................................................... 161
FACTOR ONE: Learning to Trust the Process................................. 161
For the Plant Manager.............................................................. 163
For the Lean Coordinator.........................................................164
For the Production Manager....................................................164
For the Shop Floor Supervisor.................................................164
For the Production Engineer.................................................... 165
FACTOR TWO: Assigning Appropriate Talent................................. 165
A Bit More about the Production Manager Position................166
FACTOR THREE: Doing the Planning Required to Put ALIP in
Place.................................................................................................. 169
FACTOR FOUR: Applying Strong and Effective Communications.169
FACTOR FIVE: Demonstrating the Process..................................... 170
Phase Two: Completing the Mission....................................................... 170
FACTOR SIX: Training the Production Workforce.......................... 170
FACTOR SEVEN: Driving Good Lean Practices into Office
Processes.......................................................................................... 170

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Contents ix

FACTOR EIGHT: Advancing Improvements at an Individual Job


Level.................................................................................................. 171
FACTOR NINE: Applying Lean-Oriented Vendor Certification
Standards.......................................................................................... 171
FACTOR TEN: Focusing on Continuous Improvement................... 171
A Final Word............................................................................................ 172
Key Summary Points................................................................................ 172
Appendix A: Recommended Reading ............................................. 175
Appendix B: How to Obtain Direct Assistance with the Process...... 177
Glossary: Definitions of Frequently Used Terms............................. 179

2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

List of Figures
Figure 1.1 Conversion to Lean: Toyota original versus ideal....................... 6
Figure 1.2 When, where, and to what extent?............................................ 8
Figure 1.3 ALIP: Advanced Lean Implementation Process.......................... 9
Exhibit 1.1 Key differences in approach.....................................................11
Exhibit 1.2 Kaizen evaluation form............................................................18
Figure 1.4 Progressive Kaizen...................................................................29
Figure 2.1 Pie chart: Distribution of Lean accomplishments......................37
Figure 2.2 The F Alliance..........................................................................45
Figure 2.3 Example of appropriately weighted objectives.........................50
Figure 2.4 Lean implementation step chart. .............................................57
Figure 3.1 Conventional versus world-class manufacturing.......................75
Figure 3.2 Production engineeringConveyance of talent and ability......79
Figure 3.3 Versions of a process............................................................... 89
Figure 4.1 Progressive Kaizen component tool box..................................97
Figure 4.2 Factory conversion: The Swiss cheese phenomenon............. 99
Figure 4.3 Inclusion of separate Kaizen labor pool................................. 117
Figure 4.4 High-Impact Kaizen event......................................................120
Figure 4.5 TI event window diagram......................................................122
Exhibit 4.1 Example: Lean Manufacturing equipment checklist................125
Exhibit 4.2 The inherent benefits of Why?.............................................128
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xii List of Figures

Figure 4.6 PRK event window diagram...................................................130


Figure 4.7 Example of time compression (Uninterrupted Flow)..............132
Figure 4.8 The components of Sustaining Kaizen...................................134
Figure 4.9 WRAP introduction timeframe............................................... 140
Figure 4.10 Twofold objectives of WRAP.................................................. 141
Figure 5.1 Owner-operator training window diagram............................. 149
Exhibit 5.1 Electronic final assembly Andon board.................................. 154
Exhibit 5.2 Example of simple visual controls.......................................... 155
Figure 5.2 First phase of 10-step roadmap.............................................. 162
Figure 5.3 Second phase of 10-step roadmap......................................... 162

2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

List of Tables
Chart 2.1 Step Chart Phase 1: Lay the Groundwork to Change the
FactorysProduction Technique (Timeframe: 8 to 10 months)......................58
Chart 2.2 Step Chart Phase 2: Change Flow to Best Accommodate Lean
and Pull Production (Timeframe: 6 to 8 months)...........................................58
Chart 2.3 Step Chart Phase 3: Fully Implement Lean Manufacturing
Throughout (Timeframe: 9 to 12 months)......................................................59

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Preface
Although there is little new that could be added in establishing industry
awareness regarding the benefits of Lean Manufacturing and the tools of
the Toyota Production System, a need exists to understand how to put it
all together and fully implement the process in the most effective and least
disruptive manner.
The United States is currently struggling through the worst economic
downturn since the Great Depression. General Motors, once the largest and
most influential car manufacturer in the world, filed for bankruptcy in 2009,
and along with Chrysler has been struggling through a significant downsizing and restructuring. Ford has avoided doing the same; however, the automaker reportedly lost $10 million in 2008.
On average, Americas manufacturing sector hasnt fared a great deal better. In fact, recession aside, U.S. manufacturing has been in a steady downward spiral since the advent of NAFTA, which made it advantageous for
companies to relocate manufacturing to emerging economies, where the cost
of labor and associated benefits are substantially lower. However, putting
aside the things manufacturing essentially has no real control over, the question becomes what can be done to help firms achieve and maintain a strong
competitive position for the future.
There are those who say the United States needs to look to the future
for any stronghold it hopes to achieve in something other than manufacturing. Such talk is built on the feeling that weve essentially been beaten at
our own game. Although that perception is correct to some degree, what
isnt correct (and far from acceptable) is giving up without a truly concerted
effort. America vitally needs a strong manufacturing base and, as pointed
out, theres indeed a way to substantially strengthen our competitive ability.
But in order to properly set the stage, a little history is warranted.
In the early 1980s Toyota became universally recognized as having
founded a new system of production that greatly reduced inventory, lowered
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operating costs, and substantially improved product quality and delivery


among other significant advantages. As a result the world of competitive manufacturing changed, never to be the same again. Toyotas system, which actually
came about over a 40-year period of trial and error, was a complete reversal
from the more traditional way of producing products and meeting customer
demand. Although America was initially slow to the calling, it has since been
fighting back with a process thats come to be labeled Lean Manufacturing.
Outside of the common tools used in applying the process (SMED,
Poka-Yoke, Kanban, pull production, etc.)* the application of Lean means
many different things to the managers, shop floor supervisors, production
associates, and others who make up Americas manufacturing workforce.
In addition, the forces that serve to drive performance and the mind-set of
employees havent been fully addressed in support of the effort.
There will always be distinct differences in the manner firms approach
basic operating procedures, but there is a level of commonality associated
with the fundamentals involved. Every manufacturer holds the objective
of producing and delivering goods at an acceptable price, while remaining responsive to ever-changing competitive pressures. The issue becomes
how to introduce needed change in a manner that not only allows effective
progress to be made, but includes a mechanism that strongly encourages the
direct participation of the entire workforce.
As someone who has held the position of plant manager, I completely
understand the difficulties associated with striving to incorporate change as
complex and all-encompassing as a complete revision to a factorys system
of production. But that is precisely the task U.S. industry faces if it hopes
to achieve and maintain a viable competitive position for the future. If one
accepts the odds are low of being significantly better than the competition
in acquired talent and the procurement of needed materials and components, the principal area of focus left is a companys system of production.
A firm can always strive to meet competitive pressures with better equipment and product design, but such an advantage typically doesnt last.
However, work at incorporating a superior system of production and history
has shown the competition will usually be slow in responding, if they ever
indeed fully and effectively respond.
One of the best examples is how long it has taken the United States to
collectively buy into the principles and concepts of the Toyota Production
System (TPS) and make it more than an industry watchword. Even as Lean
*

See Glossary for definitions.

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Manufacturing grew in awareness, the United States was slow to respond


and in fact is still striving to catch up. But catching up with a superior system of production that places a persistent focus on consistent improvement,
as an integral part of its operating philosophy, will almost always leave the
competition a step behind. The reason why is because correctly incorporating all the principles and concepts involved in a complete revision to an
operations system of production goes against what most managers, supervisors, and others have been formally educated and oriented to do.
The stigma of formal education pertains not only to those who manage and direct manufacturing operations around the United States, but also
our nations source of higher learning. Dr. Mark A. Curtis, Vice President
for Instruction at Alpena Community College and past professor at Purdue
University, very astutely noted in an initial review of this work:
The reason production engineers have not been at the forefront of
the Lean transformation is it runs counter to their training in college and the professors training which predates the whole Lean
deal by 2030 years. As a professor myself I was trained in reduction of direct labor, transfer machines, bigger and faster machines,
economic order quantities that considered the cost of getting product versus the cost of having product. All this goes out the window
with Lean, but it is hard for a professor to turn his back on years
of college training and real-world experience that did not include
Lean thinking. (personal communication)
Dr. Curtis went further to say,
Some plant managers have risen to the level of plant manager
because of their success and competence with the old batch and
queue system. In short they are good at the old way and must
be convinced of the benefits of Lean and then learn about it.
Situational leadership would say not all leaders (plant managers)
will be good in all situations. (personal communication)
America began to lose the advantage of being a manufacturing entity
unto itself in the early 1980s, bound by a system of production built on the
fundamentals of high-volume batch production. As time went by, the system
became influenced by sophisticated storage and transfer systems, by highly
paced production lines, and by throughput standards that were aimed more
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at theoretically covering every problem that might arise, rather than focusing
on establishing the root cause of recurring production problems and putting
them to rest.
The by-product perpetuated extremely large levels of inventory, established to keep the wheels of production churning. Simple but important
things, such as long setup and changeover times, were completely ignored
and associated wastes such as scrap, rework, and obsolescence were
accepted as the cost of doing business. Most large manufacturing firms
ended up with literally millions of dollars tied up in huge inventory storage
and smaller operations had a similar abundance, in terms of a ratio of inventory to sales. Inventory became viewed as an operational asset, outweighing
in importance the cost associated with carrying, managing, and handling the
overabundance, even when sales did not reflect the need.
But inventory wasnt the only issue that came to influence a decline in
Americas manufacturing competitiveness. The ever-escalating cost of labor
was another, along with the fact that standard performance measurements
(such as machine utilization, direct labor efficiency, and others) motivated
output over any other sense of direction. The basic motto essentially boiled
down to: keep operators and equipment busy building parts, regardless if
theres an immediate need or not. Anything more than required to meet customer demand can always be stored for future use.
This approach was workable as long as the competition boiled down to
those using the same mode of operation. But as the world of business and
subsequent competition began to rapidly expand beyond Americas shores, a
new approach to manufacturing emerged with a completely new set of operating principles. However, manufacturing in the United States initially turned
a deaf ear to the calling, even when it became apparent it was fighting a losing battle; and the facts are we still havent collectively turned away from the
practices of the old and fully embraced a proven and more effective mode
of operation.
There are two overriding reasons why this has occurred. The first concerns the lack of a mechanism that promotes the type of change required
and serves to keep things moving in the right direction. The second, as previously mentioned, has to do with the difficulty of making massive change
thats in direct conflict with an individuals formal education, training, and
work experience.
The job to be done should not be underestimated. It is massive, in
terms of not only physically changing the factory floor but also the mindset of plant leadership and the workforce as a whole. Chipping away at the
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insertion of Lean Manufacturing, much like Toyota was forced to do over


decades of trial and error in developing TPS, simply will not suffice. An
interesting thought to ponder is whether Toyota, given what they know
today, would follow the same path they initially took in making the Toyota
Production System a full reality. Its reasonably safe to say they would go
about it entirely differently, especially considering the full creation of TPS
was well over 30 years in the making.
The principal issue American industry faces isnt how to use the tools
and techniques developed in the Toyota Production System. Most companies
striving to apply Lean have gotten quite good at doing so. Again, the challenge centers on how to put it all together and aggressively go about making
a full and complete transition, while responding to performance standards
that in many ways pose a direct conflict with that mission. This has proven
to be a delicate balancing act for most U.S.-based companies; but there is
indeed a way to deal with the dilemma, which will not only aid tremendously in advancing the insertion of Lean but has the potential of making
Kaizen a valid competitive weapon. However, entire thinking about Kaizen,
its role, and its use has to change.
An excellent definition of Kaizen can be found in Wikipedia (the Internetbased encyclopedia) that states:
Kaizen is a philosophy focusing on continuous improvement in
manufacturing activities, business activities in general and even
life in general, depending on interpretation and usage. In Toyota
Kaizen is a daily activity, the purpose of which goes beyond simple productivity improvement. It is also a process that, when done
correctly, humanizes the workplace, eliminates overly hard work
(muri) and teaches people how to perform experiments on their
work using the scientific method and how to learn to spot and
eliminate wastes in business processes. While Kaizen usually delivers small improvements, the culture of small improvements and
standardization yields large results in the form of compound productivity improvements.
It would be beneficial for most manufacturing firms to carefully study
that definition and strive to take it to heart because there are two aspects
that typically are not being applied to the fullest. The first has to do with
making Kaizen a daily activity. The second involves teaching people how to
perform experiments on their work and how to spot and eliminate wastes
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in business processes. I would point out the words used were daily,
people, and business processes, which refer to more than just shop floor
operations and hourly production workers. The business of waste reduction
can and should involve every area of the business, including office functions, which havent been completely ignored but ideally need a great deal
more attention.
Kaizen was added to Toyotas war chest after a great deal of fundamental work had been completed on the shop floor. Taiichi Ohno, the recognized father of the Toyota Production System, said as much when quizzed
by Norman Bodek, a forerunner in the research of TPS and its growth in
Japanese industry. Bodek proceeded to ask Ohno where the company stood
after reducing all work-in-process inventory, lowering the water level to
expose the rocks and enabling them to chip away at the problems. Ohnos
response was: All we are doing is looking at the time line from the moment
the customer gives the order to the point we collect the cash. And we are
reducing that time line by removing the non-value-added wastes.1
What Ohno was essentially saying was that Toyota was beginning to
focus strongly on continuous improvement, in order to complement the fundamentals they had worked to put in place over the course of many years.
Our opportunity lies in using an energized Kaizen process as the accelerator for a much more thorough application of Lean.
A vital task we face in turning the attention level up dramatically rests
with somehow changing the thinking of the average manufacturing manager, who from both an educational and experience standpoint has been
strongly oriented toward conventional manufacturing practices. Changing
such a mind-set isnt easy, especially in light of the fact that many leaders
who fit the category have been highly successful utilizing the techniques
they came armed with out of college and which were further enforced
with their personal work experience. Asking them to consider changing the
techniques theyve previously been successful with for years doesnt always
sit well. As Dr. Curtis pointed out, something has to serve to convince them
thoroughly of both the need and the way.
I was no different. I grew up in a batch manufacturing environment,
assumed the role of plant manager under that scenario, and had to literally
be pushed by a strong mentor to find out more about the benefits of Lean.
I rather reluctantly attended a training course that I honestly wasnt all that
enthused about. True to my commitment, however, I arranged to attend a
day-and-a-half seminar conducted by Richard J. Schonberger, an early author
and lecturer on the subject of world-class manufacturing. I asked a number
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of my staff, along with the leadership of the local union, to accompany me


to the seminar and we collectively came away with an entirely different view
about manufacturing.
As time went by, I became a strong convert and energetically went about
applying everything I could learn about the process, which resulted in a factory that became a showcase operation for United Technologies. I went on
to spend four years traveling and lending assistance to manufacturing operations, conducting numerous (two-week) high-impact Kaizen events in UTC
facilities around the world.
If I was capable of changing my mind, anyone should be able to. I went
to work in manufacturing at the age of 24, making my way through the
industrial engineering ranks, before taking the job of plant manager at the
age of 48. I had over 20 years of conventional manufacturing practices literally pounded into me before coming to recognize the need for change. I can
therefore say to any manager who may have doubts about Lean: open your
mind to a trusted and proven process and do everything possible to make it
a reality. You will come to applaud the day you made the decision.
Using Kaizen to the fullest extent can aid tremendously by making it the
chief mechanism for the type of change required. But we have to learn to
perform Kaizen in a much more effective manner than has typically been
the case, which starts by understanding what the process is actually capable
of accomplishing.
Most Lean initiatives lack definition, with respect to how they fit in the
overall scheme of achieving a clear end objective. That is why a reasonable
amount of formal planning is required before extending efforts that basically
become a haphazard approach to the task. Although it may be nice and
somewhat comforting to put various facets of Lean Manufacturing in place
in a factory (which can be pointed to as being on the right track), it achieves
little without a thoughtfully structured plan to make a whole and complete
transition in the manner production work is performed. Therefore, the planning side of the equation becomes essential. But a viable and constructive
plan of action cannot be duly accomplished without first committing to an
engine that serves to drive the entire process.
A good Lean Manufacturing effort requires actions that serve to correct
established paradigms, as well as production processes on the shop floor.
This cannot be done in an adequate manner without appropriate training
and communications, along with a well-identified accelerator for the process.
This book points out a means to transition the concept of Kaizen from a less
than frequently used toolfor the most part aimed at making small change
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under the guise of incremental improvementto an all-encompassing process aimed at driving strong lasting change through an entire factory.
Although one can go about placing a turtle on a downhill slope in order to
temporarily increase its speed, the fact is that its still a turtle and in a competitive race with almost any other four-legged creature its absolutely no match.
To some degree a comparison can be made to the manner in which manufacturing firms have basically approached Lean. The focus has been on making
small incremental improvements to a slow and cumbersome waste producer,
rather than working on getting that waste producer completely out of the picture and replacing it with something with much greater speed and endurance.
Getting out of the rut of making Lean all things in theory and very little
in overall competitive practice (i.e., fully eliminating an outdated system
of production) is essentially where the opportunity rests. The use of the
tools of TPS and the philosophy that serves to drive them have come to
be known throughout the United States as Lean Manufacturing. Its a term
sometimes inadvertently taken to mean being lean on employment. But
although Lean is structured to address the best utilization of employees
and frequently calls for fewer operators than typically used to do the work
involved, employee reductions are not the chief objective. In fact, if applied
in an effective manner, the long-term result elevates the potential for added
employment and much greater overall job security.
The primary objective of any Lean effort should be to make manufacturing more responsive to the customer, while at the same time removing
inherent wastes that serve to increase costs and reduce overall flexibility. In
an effort to make the task more understandable I outlined the fundamentals
involved in Fast Track to Waste-Free Manufacturing, in terms of four guiding
principles that the average American worker could easily relate to and rally
around:
Guiding Principles

Toyota Production System Tools

Workplace Organization

5-S, Visual Controls, Std. Work, U-Cell

Uninterrupted Flow

Pull Production, Point-of-Use Mfg., Kanban

Insignificant Changeover

SMED, 5-S, Visual Controls, Std. Work

Error-Free Processing

Poka-Yoke, TPM

But to avoid any confusion as to the connection between this and my


previous works on the subject of Lean, the following provides a quick
summary.
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Fast Track to Waste-Free Manufacturing was aimed at explaining the


benefits of Lean and boiling down the fundamentals to a set of guiding
principles that made the task more understandable for management, shop
floor supervisors, and hourly production employees. Leading the Lean
Initiative was designed to address the many issues plant managers typically
face in making a transition to Lean, along with the role they should play in
the overall effort. Lean Manufacturing; Implementation Strategies That Work
focused on a formal plan of action aimed at adequately engineering a factorys key production equipment, in order to more effectively support a Lean
initiative.
The question could arise as to why further work was needed and indeed
warranted. Again, the answer lies in the fact that although the process
of inserting the principles and concepts of Lean has begun in earnest, in
numerous manufacturing facilities across America, there isnt a universally
accepted mechanism that serves as an accelerator for the process. Kaizen
can indeed be that accelerator if it is fully understood and used in the correct manner, thus the purpose of this book.
Holding what might be viewed as an excellent Kaizen event is actually
next to useless if the gains are not carried forward as part of an ultimate
plan to revamp the entire factory. Unfortunately, completely revamping a
factory isnt the common mission of most Lean/Kaizen efforts. Most are
chip-away-oriented and aimed at short-term cost reduction. Although it
could be argued that the ultimate result of such efforts have gone a long
way at fully incorporating Lean, a problem becomes apparent in the definition of the task:
Fully incorporating Lean means entirely eliminating any form of batch
production. In order to accomplish this and overcome the influence of
process monuments (e.g., a large paint line or coating process that can
be extremely expensive to relocate or replace), a well-defined Kanban
process has been established and rigidly enforced. Any factory that has
not accomplished the full insertion of pull throughout its entire production process simply has not fully incorporated Lean.
Fully incorporating Lean means that each and every piece of key
production equipment has had a well-qualified application of SMED,
Poka-Yoke, and TPM thoroughly applied and that nothing is done that
doesnt fall within the parameters of a set of guiding principles. When
something fails to meet those guiding principles, great care is taken
before pursuing it to completion.
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

xxiv Preface

Fully incorporating Lean means making change and then following up


with continuous improvement activities, conducted on both a formal
and informal basis, through structured group activity and participation
at an individual job level.
The old tired and worn clich that Lean is a never-ending process has to
be taken out of the equation. Certain aspects of continuous improvement
fit that particular description; however, putting a solid foundation for Lean
in place doesnt. But in order to build a proper foundation, its important
to remember theres a common barrier that has to be overcome. That barrier centers on the fact that even under the best of circumstances, individual
goals and typical performance measurements are commonly constructed to
support the old (existing) system of production, making it difficult to drive
the kind of change needed across the entire factory. Thus, the accelerator of
change has to be something thats capable of overcoming this particular barrier in an effective manner.
This book serves to address how to make Kaizen a formidable competitive weapon. Describing the end result in terms of being formidable could be
viewed as a stretch, inasmuch as the word itself is defined in dictionary.com of
great strength; powerful and intimidating, arousing feelings of awe or admiration. But if one considers formidable to be a valid description of the Toyota
Production System (an operating concept universally recognized for its manufacturing excellence), the outcome that can be achieved with the proper application of strategy and tactics is actually far from a stretch. Understanding the
potential scope of Kaizen and how to most effectively apply it offer a means
of achieving a competitive likeness to TPS that is second to none and that, by
anyones definition, would truly be a formidable competitive weapon.

Endnote
1. Ohno, Taiichi. 1988. Publishers Foreword in Toyota Production System
Beyond Large Scale Production, New York: Productivity Press.

2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

Acknowledgments
A special word of thanks to Michael Sinocchi, Senior Acquisitions Editor for
Productivity Press. Michael was instrumental in bringing my first work on
Lean Manufacturing to publication (Fast Track to Waste-Free Manufacturing);
followed two years later by a second book (Leading the Lean Initiative).
I brought the thought for this work to Michael at a time when the overall
economy was teetering, affecting the publishing world as well as almost every
other facet of business. It was also a time when a massive amount of material
abounded on Lean and Kaizen. But Michael saw something uniquely important about the subject matter and urged me to bring the project to fruition. For
his continuing support and encouragement he has my sincere appreciation.
I would further like to recognize Roger Lewandowski, CEO of World
Competition Consultants and a longtime friend and mentor. During his career
with Carrier Air Conditioning, he served as Vice President of Manufacturing
for Carrier-North America and was instrumental in providing me with my
first opportunity in a plant management position. He went on to serve as a
continuing advisor over the course of my career and is someone I hold in the
highest regard. Without his strong and lasting influence I simply would not
have been exposed to the background and experience I was fortunate to gain.
Last but not least, I would like to express my gratitude to Barry ONell,
Edward Cannon, and Gary Roscoe. These gentlemen worked with me on a
very special assignment conducted between 1993 and 1997, aimed at deploying Flexible Manufacturing for United Technologies Corporation. Over a
four-year period we traveled much of the world, conducting two-week
high-impact Kaizen events at facilities in the United States, South America,
Europe, and the Far East. It became the catalyst for a wealth of knowledge
and hands-on experience in Lean Manufacturing to which we would not
have otherwise been exposed. Ill always be exceptionally grateful for the
unwavering commitment and support they extended in making the effort a
truly professionally rewarding experience.
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

xxv

Introduction
A SPECIAL WORD ABOUT TOYOTA
During the course of writing this book Toyota, whose system of production is mentioned frequently, announced one of the largest and most
problematic recalls in automotive history. The issue in question involved
one of the worst scenarios that any automaker could be forced to deal
with: unintended acceleration on a large number of models. On the surface this would seem to point to a flaw with Toyotas system of production. On the other hand, its much more likely that a company that built
a highly regarded reputation on quality and went on to become the
number one automobile manufacturer in the world, momentarily took
its eye off the ball. Whether Toyota will ever be able to restore consumer confidence to the previous level it enjoyed is yet to be known.
Many questions still linger. But it is safe to say that the principles of
the Toyota Production System have been proven time and again to
be far superior to conventional manufacturing techniques. Therefore,
this would seem to point more to the need for diligence in application, rather than any question as to the merits of a highly effective and
repeatedly tested method of manufacturing.
The inspiration for this work came shortly after finishing Lean
Manufacturing; Implementation Strategies that Work. I was having a conversation with a friend and colleague, who like myself had gone into consulting
work after a long career in manufacturing. Although our fields of endeavor
were different, his in accounting and mine initially in industrial engineering,
we shared many common views about manufacturing.
As the conversation went on he mentioned that one of his principal frustrations with Lean rested in the fact there seemed to be a great deal of trial
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

xxvii

xxviii Introduction

and experimentation involved, with little actual return on overall investment


made. I told him that I essentially agreed, but the culprit wasnt Lean itself. I
went on to say what was missing was a lack of a solid approach to implementation and the surest way of getting there was elevating the use of Kaizen.
He confessed he didnt fully understand what I was driving at and in
response I asked him to accompany me to my office, where I took the
time to sketch an outline of a concept I refer to as ALIP (Advanced Lean
Implementation Process), which utilizes Progressive Kaizen as one of the
three major components. When I finished he studied the whiteboard for a
moment before remarking, You know something, John? You need to write a
book about that.
Although I appreciated the comment, I thought little more about it until
three weeks later when he called and asked how the book was coming. I
had to admit to him that after just finishing a book on Lean, I hadnt given a
lot of consideration to applying the necessary time and dedication required
to bring another work to fruition. His response was: You know best about
that, but I think its something manufacturing firms could really use.
His persistence spurred me to sit down and construct an outline for a
manuscript and as it started to take form it became increasingly apparent
that it was not only a highly worthwhile topic to pursue, but one that held
the potential of greatly enhancing the progress of Lean across most U.S.
industries. The reason I go as far as saying that is because of the unique
subject matter this book serves to address.
Theres indeed a bountiful amount of material available that speaks to
Lean and Kaizen; however, this work is a first in breaking down the process into four distinct categories of application, clearly pointing out that all
Kaizen activity is far from being one and the same. It comes with almost
30 years of experience in a wide diversification of manufacturing, and from
someone who lived through the challenge of applying Lean as a plant manager in two very large and complex factories that were laden with waste and
inefficiency. I therefore feel the outlined concept can be extremely helpful to
any manufacturing operation wishing to advance a Lean initiative, and especially for those who hold an interest in getting the utmost out of Kaizen.

Who Can Benefit from This Book and Why


Although there is little that can be added regarding the various tools and
techniques of the Toyota Production System that hasnt been addressed in
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

Introduction xxix

a massive amount of available material on the market, this book offers a


unique process aimed at building uniformity in the way companies can
more successfully go about fully implementing Lean. The targeted emphasis
is on an advanced application of Kaizen that serves to promote an increased
level of awareness and workforce participation. In keeping with this, the
functional role and responsibility of key positions are thoroughly addressed
and the various types of Kaizen are identified so it is easy to understand
their specific use, along with when and how these can be applied in the
most effective manner.

For the College Professor and Engineering Student


The content provides a teaching and study aid that can be used by college
professors and engineering students in the realm of Lean Manufacturing
and the supportive role graduates should come prepared to play when they
enter industry. Two of the more important topics addressed center on the
responsibility production engineers should hold in upgrading equipment to
support a Lean initiative using an advanced application of Poka-Yoke, SMED,
and TPM,* along with the role they hold in providing input and assistance in
Lean applications to production supervisors, shop floor employees, and others as conditions warrant.

For the Plant Manager and Executive Company Leadership


The content can serve as a roadmap for a process that can lead to making
a factory, a company, and an overall enterprise much more competitive to
the challenges of the future. Whether adopted in full or in part, the use of
the techniques, concepts, and strategies involved can be highly beneficial
in advancing the implementation of world-competitive manufacturing practices and can do nothing but improve a manufacturing operations overall
strength and ability. The content involves a structured guideline for getting
the absolute best out of Kaizen and taking a Lean initiative to its ultimate
level of achievement.

For the New and Experienced Lean Coordinator


This book serves as reinforcement for the key role the Lean coordinator holds in training and leading change that serves to make and keep a
*

See Glossary for definitions of terms.

2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

xxx Introduction

manufacturing firm world competitive. The content provided can help the
Lean coordinator in structuring a master plan that elevates the overall use
and effectiveness of Kaizen and further promotes a much more effective
approach to the task of fully implementing Lean in keeping with the four
guiding principles of workplace organization, uninterrupted flow, error-free
processing, and insignificant changeover.

For the Company or Operation Just Entering


or Considering a Lean Initiative
The content explains and reinforces the importance of Lean Manufacturing
and how to construct a change process using Kaizen as the chief mechanism
for implementation. It further speaks to the various types of Kaizen activity,
the associated role of key players, needed organizational change, and how to
avoid common pitfalls. It can be viewed as a roadmap to more successfully
approach the task of implementation and, as the subject requires, with an
abundance of visual aids and applicable reference material.

For the Production Manager and Shop Floor Supervisor


The content explains the importance of fully implementing Lean
Manufacturing practices in a factory and the specific role the production
manager and shop floor supervisor should play in thoroughly supporting the
process and making it a lasting reality. Included are the types of actions and
individual objectives that should be assumed.

For the Employee Desiring to Increase His or


Her Overall Knowledge and Expertise
The content speaks to a growing need in manufacturing and the opportunity for employees (both hourly and salaried) to increase their overall
knowledge in a field that will only continue to expand in importance as
time goes by. Effectively learning how to use the principles and concepts
involved doesnt require a college degree and is commonsense oriented.
What is ideally required, however, is striving to work for a company that
utilizes Lean Manufacturing and provides both training and direct involvement in the process. Once the skills are learned and practiced, the acquired
expertise will substantially increase an employees value in todays swiftly
changing manufacturing environment.
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

Introduction xxxi

Key Supporting Material


There are two books frequently referred to throughout the content
of this book. One is my first work on Lean, Fast Track to Waste-Free
Manufacturing, and the other is a more recent one entitled, Lean
Manufacturing; Implementation Strategies That Work. Although what is
outlined herein is essentially self-supportive in providing a viable approach
to Lean and an expanded use of Kaizen, in order to obtain the most
comprehensive understanding of two key topics addressed, these two
books are highly recommended reading. The first key topic involves the
expanded role of the production engineering function, covered in depth in
Lean Manufacturing: Implementation Strategies That Work (Davis, 2009).
The second key topic addresses four guiding principles which serve as the
foundation for Lean implementation, covered in expanded detail in Fast
Track to Waste-Free Manufacturing (Davis, 1999).

2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

Chapter 1

Examining the Basics of an


Effective Kaizen Process
When Ive gone about asking various manufacturing firms the specific
role Kaizen plays in their operation, Ive gotten a variety of answers.
Unfortunately, the one Ive failed to hear and that most appropriately fits the
task is: Kaizen is the chief mechanism used to fully incorporate Lean and
provide employees a means of making improvements to their individual jobs.
In all fairness, however, most manufacturers havent focused on establishing a formal strategy and a well-defined path for Kaizen. Accomplishing this
starts by understanding that Kaizen can be much more than an instrument for
small continuous improvements, the thing its chiefly touted to accomplish.
In reality there are four distinct types (or categories) of Kaizen, each with its
own purpose and priorities. A company that learns to identify with these and
use them to their ultimate can make gigantic steps in the right direction.
There are few who would disagree that the minimum goal we should be
striving to accomplish is to bring our manufacturing expertise up to par, as
quickly as possible, with Toyota and others who have adopted a superior
system of production. However, the level of change simply hasnt gone far
enough in most cases. Although the United States will probably never overcome the disparity that exists in labor costs and benefits, it has the chance
of much better managing and controlling the other major facets of the business: more specifically plant overhead, indirect labor, both work-in-progress
and finished goods inventory, along with reducing manufacturing lead time
and increasing overall responsiveness to customer needs. But getting that
point across to those who direct and manage manufacturing operations in
the United States can sometimes be difficult.
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

2 Progressive Kaizen

RELATED EXPERIENCE: I was in the process of striving to explain this


to a group of mid-level manufacturing managers when one of them
interrupted and said, Well if we can do it, so can the competition. That
still leaves us behind the eight-ball. I could see an immediate flash of
agreement sweep across the faces of the others in attendance and it
became apparent I had to swiftly deflate a growing defeatist attitude or
I was otherwise going to lose the audience, both in mind and spirit. But
changing the mind-set of a group of highly seasoned managers, who
have seen enough to be convinced that the chances of a silver bullet
are slim, is difficult at best. I clearly understood I had to choose my
response carefully and admittedly had to think a moment before replying. But I did so with two questions, a short story, and a point.
The first question: Did the audience believe Toyota was a formidable
competitor in the automotive industry?
The response: A collective yes.
The second question: Were they aware Toyota almost went bankrupt
and stood the chance of going out of business and closing the doors to
its factory forever?
The response: No to Not entirely.
Capsule of the story: In the mid-1940s Toyota was just coming out of
World War II and struggling to enter the automobile industry. Things
didnt go well, to say the least. Toyota found itself on the verge of bankruptcy and facing the looming possibility of closing its doors forever.
Deming and Duran came on the scene and Toyota became a forerunner
in eagerly adopting statistical process and quality control procedures
that served tremendously to keep the business going. Later, under the
guiding influence of Shigeo Shingo and Taiichi Ohno, the birth of what
today is known as the Toyota Production System took place and the rest
is history.
The point: Toyota could have easily said, If we can do it, so can the
competition, and gone about throwing their hands up in defeat. But
they didnt and today theyre viewed among the titans of the automotive

2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

Examining the Basics of an Effective Kaizen Process 3

industry. Why? Because Toyota was willing to put aside conventional


thinking and pursue an approach that drove typical waste and inefficiency out of manufacturing. I went on to stress to the group that it
shouldnt be assumed because the same opportunities exist for the competition that they will take a genuine interest in eagerly applying the
time, energy, and effort to make it happen. American industry certainly
didnt when it had the opportunity to follow Toyotas lead decades
ago, and there are those today who still arent fully convinced of the
urgency.
In the end the group developed an acceptance of the opportunity and
turned into a highly energetic team that went on to lead some outstanding accomplishments for the factory over the course of the following three years. With only minor reductions in direct labor, the plant
focused on overhead and managed to reduce what is referred to in the
financial branch of the business as burden from 330% to 260%, a 70
percentage point improvement. Considering inflation, it was indeed a
phenomenal accomplishment that went on to favorably affect profitability in an industry where pennies counted when it came to selling price.
There are two reasons for relating that experience. The first has to do
with pointing out the problem of striving to sell the urgency for change to
those who hold the responsibility of managing the day-to-day activities of
manufacturing. There will always be doubters, especially if the product happens to be a concept, because it is extremely easy to dismiss the thoughts
and opinions of others if the buyer doesnt have a product they can see, feel,
and touch.
The second reason is to provide an example of a wide variety of personal
experiences that will be shared throughout the content of this work. These
are highlighted in shaded boxes should the reader desire to flip through
and quickly refer to them. Collectively, they involve many issues that frequently arise when striving to implement Lean, taken from a wide range of
both career and consulting experiences. But if there is one thing the reader
should keep in mind and carry with them long after setting this book aside
it would be this:
Kaizen isnt limited to the single purpose of making small continuous improvements. Used in the correct manner, it can serve as the
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

4 Progressive Kaizen

chief mechanism in fully inserting Lean Manufacturing throughout


an entire business enterprise.
Learning how to get the proper kind of focus and how to construct activities that serve to get the best out of Kaizen is what the content of this work
is designed to cover. Some of the more prominent issues that are addressed
center on:
1. Defining the four basic types of Kaizen and their intended goals and
objectives.
2. Outlining the characteristics of a select group of leadership roles that
allow a firm to get the best out of Kaizen.
3. Providing the specific dos and donts associated with making Kaizen all
it can be.
4. Defining the critical role the maintenance function plays in Kaizen
and what to do to strengthen its ability to respond in a more effective
manner.
5. Establishing the merits of a WRAP (Waste Reduction Activity Process)
aimed at effectively driving Kaizen down to the individual job level, in
each and every branch of the business.
6. Pointing out how to go about avoiding the common pitfalls associated
with Kaizen.
7. Outlining the key factors associated with developing a firm plan of
action for Kaizen and seeing it through.
8. Addressing the insertion of effective measurements and reporting activities
that serve to drive and steer the process and avoid stalls in implementation.
_________________________________________________
System of production is a term used frequently throughout the content
of this work. In the simplest form of definition it refers to both the philosophical mind-set that drives the action and the specific techniques used to
perform the work involved. Fully changing the system of production from
batch, to something strongly representative of the full insertion of Lean, is
the principal task involved. Much of what occurs in a typical manufacturing
operation could be done with far less waste and without changing the existing system of production. However, the common measurements and individual objectives used to drive an operation often prescribe the absolute wrong
practices; the most prominent error being overproduction and everything
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

Examining the Basics of an Effective Kaizen Process 5

that precedes and follows this particular flaw. This in turn means the old
system of production has to be torn down in its entirety and fully replaced.
To some degree we need to speak about change in terms that make
the entire process something middle managers, floor supervisors, and production employees can more easily rally around. As an example, a more
plausible definition for Kaizen would be waste reduction activity, because
employees would typically be far more energized about participating in a
process clearly aimed at reducing manufacturing wastes than they would in
being asked to serve in a Kaizen eventwhich even today is still a bit of
a mystery to most American workers. But more about this particular subject
later.
Unfortunately, Kaizen is often something employees are not encouraged
to actively utilize in their daily jobs. In many cases Kaizen turns out to be
a special affair performed on a relatively infrequent basis. This has helped
create the principal difference between what Kaizen means in Toyota versus
what it means in U.S. industry. In the sense of the greatest difference, in the
United States the objective is commonly aimed at picking the low-hanging
fruit and achieving short-term cost reduction. Although there is nothing
wrong with that in itself, we tend to lessen the overall power of Kaizen
by not using it to fully change the existing system of production and then
working to keep it that way.
If fully studied, history points to the fact that Toyotas principal use of
Kaizen came after the basics of the Toyota Production System (TPS) were
put in place. Our task is to put Kaizen on the front end, in order to more
effectively make the kind of change required and then use it as Toyota has
in supporting and maintaining a truly competitive system of production.
Figure1.1 indicates such an approach, as opposed to the manner Toyotas
system was developed over a period of decades. Under this scenario the
very first task would be to fully engineer a plants key production equipment to support a Lean process and then follow up by inserting the use of
Kaizen as the chief agent for change. For those who already have a Lean
Manufacturing initiative underway, doing this would essentially boil down
to adjusting implementation strategy in order to see that the first step is
fully carried out. Using this approach would serve to enhance any Lean
Manufacturing initiative regardless of how long it has been in place and
should not be viewed as changing the ultimate objective in any way. (See
Daviss Lean Manufacturing; Implementation Strategies That Work for more
detailed information on this important step.)
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

6 Progressive Kaizen

Toyotas Transition to the


Toyota Production System
Insertion of pullproduction techniques
----------------------Development of:
point-of-use
cellular MFG
Kanban

Insertion of equipment
engineering
-------------------------Development of
SMED & Poka-Yoke

Insertion of continuous
improvement
-----------------------------Kaizen

Decades of
trial & error
in the making

Ideal U.S. Approach to


.
Implementing Lean
MFG

Insertion of
equipment engineering
---------------------------TPM SMED
Poka-Yoke

Insertion of process to train employees


and enhance full implementation
of Lean Manufacturing
-----------------------------------------Full & effective use of the various
types of Kaizen

Insertion of pullproduction techniques


----------------------------Kanban
Point-of-use

Continuation of improvement
to production processes
---------------------------------Principally through the use of
sustaining Kaizen

Figure 1.1 Conversion to Lean: Toyota original versus ideal.

For those who are into Lean and have a small or nonexistent production
engineering resource, there could be some reluctance to hire the additional
talent needed to fully carry out the equipment engineering noted. This, as
pointed out, is shortsighted management. But regardless of that particular
step, there should be absolutely no reason for not considering a strengthened and much more productive Kaizen process. At some point, however, a
strong qualified application of Single Minute Exchange of Dies (SMED) and
Poka-Yoke needs to be applied to key production equipment throughout
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

Examining the Basics of an Effective Kaizen Process 7

the factory, and this is best achieved through the use of educated and fully
qualified manufacturing and industrial engineers.
So what does utilizing Kaizen to its fullest mean in the application of
day-to-day individual duties and responsibilities? It means taking the process
to an increased level of activity, which involves well-trained operators on
the shop floor who take it upon themselves to perform Kaizen as a positive influence on their work. It further requires production engineers who
become teachers, advisors, and auditors of the process, along with shop
floor managers and supervisors who have a knowledgeable respect for the
process and strongly encourage their people to use it.
A portion of the content outlined is aimed at senior management and
those who effectively lead a Kaizen effort. On the other hand, its valuable reading material for any manufacturing manager or supervisor, along
with those making up the general salaried and hourly workforce. Even
for those who already have an aggressive application of Kaizen underway there are some compelling reasons to take the time to study carefully
what is outlined, because:
1. It covers topics not typically addressed when speaking about Kaizen, but
which are essential to the overall success of a well-focused and well-run
process.
2. It provides sound advice for those directly responsible for managing
a factory and those assigned the duty of carrying Kaizen forward in a
successful and meaningful manner.
Take a look at any Lean initiative and strive to identify the philosophical
focus used to drive that initiative. In most cases it simply isnt there. What
one typically finds is a rather confusing mix of tools and techniques, with
no well-defined driver for the process other than when and to what extent
management decides to pursue the tools involved (see Figure1.2).
When most companies are asked to explain the philosophical focus that
drives the effort, they will almost always reply, Continuous improvement.
The obvious question becomes: improvement to whatthe existing system
of production or something else; something higher and more rewarding or
something aimed at striving to make an old and obsolete means of production somewhat more effective, overall? If there is any doubt about that,
go to the leader of most any company or factory involved and ask him to
define precisely what the work he is putting into a Lean initiative is aimed
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

8 Progressive Kaizen
When, Where and to What Extent?

TAKT Time?

Kanban?

Poka-Yoke?

Andon?

1 Piece Flow?

SMED?

Kaizen?

Figure 1.2 When, where, and to what extent?

at accomplishing and what serves to drive the process. The response might
surprise you.
Unfortunately, Kaizen is commonly viewed as just one form of ammunition in the arsenal of tools and techniques developed to implement Lean
practices. Quite often the efforts extended hold the unwritten objective of
building some, but far from all, of the advantages of Lean into a conventional manufacturing operation. This is due to many factors discussed in
appropriate detail as we move along. But first and foremost on the list is
failing to understand how wrapping the tools of Lean in an effective Kaizen
process can move Lean implementation forward in a more productive and
far less disruptive manner than normally the case.
Figure1.3 provides a visual representation of how the outlined
Kaizen process would ideally work. The tools and principles indicated will be discussed, but with a glance one can start to see what a
truly results-oriented Kaizen effort can and should be. ALIP (Advanced
Lean Implementation Process) is made up of three major components:
Progressive Kaizen, Waste-Free Manufacturing, and WRAP. What becomes
clearly evident is that everything is essentially driven by four guiding principles, initially outlined for waste-free manufacturing. This may
appear to be a bit complex, but as shown, the entire process is commonsense oriented and easy to relate to once the elements involved have been
thoroughly explained.
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

Examining the Basics of an Effective Kaizen Process 9

Applied
components

Focus

ALIP
Advanced Lean
Implementation Process

Progressive
Kaizen

Type of
Kaizen utilized

Waste-free
manufacturing

Dr

ive

WRAP

riv

er

rs

Drivers utilized

Formal group waste


reduction activity

Drivers

Four Guiding Principles


1. Workplace organization
2. Uninterrupted flow
3. Insignificant changeover
4. Error-free processing

Drivers

High-impact Kaizen
Training/implementation
Kaizen
Problem resolution Kaizen
Sustaining Kaizen

Incentive for individual


job improvements

Problem resolution Kaizen


Sustaining Kaizen

Figure 1.3 ALIP: Advanced Lean Implementation Process.

It would be helpful for the reader to highlight Figure1.3 and keep it


handy for quick reference purposes, because it essentially captures what
this entire work encompasses. The overall concept of ALIP again starts with
three applied components; Progressive Kaizen, Waste-Free Manufacturing,
and WRAP. Specific information relating to WRAP is outlined in Chapter 2
under Value of Inserting a WRAP Initiative and again in Chapter 4 under
Implementing a WRAP Initiative. The categories of waste reduction noted for
progressive Kaizen are addressed later in this chapter under Overview of the
Various Types of Kaizen and are spoken to repeatedly throughout the content.
In a nutshell, the principles involved are Workplace Organization, which
focuses on an efficiently constructed work area with adequate visual aids
and controls; Uninterrupted Flow, which is aimed at substantially minimizing
stoppage and storage points in flow; Insignificant Changeover, which places
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

10 Progressive Kaizen

a focus on reducing setup and changeover to the point of it becoming


insignificant in the decision-making process for taking on added business,
revising production schedules, and so on; and Error-Free Processing, which
is directed at applying the science of Poka-Yoke to eliminate the chance of
recurring production errors or quality issues.
But putting a truly workable implementation process in place, through an
advanced application of Kaizen as the accelerator, has to go a step further.
This additional step requires taking a hard look at the role and responsibility
of key players in the process and laying out a plan of action that serves to
overcome typical roadblocks to success. As is addressed, creating an appropriate mind-set for change weighs no less in overall importance than the
mechanism established to successfully drive and steer the effort.
In addressing the matter of perceptions, one of our shortcomings with
Kaizen is that potential achievements have often been limited with thinking
which says if it doesnt work to everyones satisfaction, we can always revert
back to the way we were doing things before. Kaizen is also frequently
clouded with resistance aimed at avoiding disruption to the existing system
of production, the very thing the process should be designed to eradicate. In
many cases participants back away from clearly attainable results because of
concerns about the support they will need to make a change in its entirety.
As an example, in order to get a pull system of production underway in
a factory, the paint line supervisor may be asked to deliver finished parts to
final assembly only in the quantities specified. In order to accomplish this, the
paint line would be required to hold a portion of the inventory that has been
pushed to them, due to no fault of their own, but because the plant as a
whole is still operating under the guidelines of a batch system of production.
Although the paint line supervisor may not fight the change entirely,
knowing Kaizen is being performed at the direction of senior management,
he will sometimes construct compromises that serve to make the success of
the change less than totally effective, such as obtaining an agreement with
the group performing Kaizen to send only a select number of parts in the
quantities specified and to continue business as usual on the majority of
parts involved. This way the supervisor can say he hasnt resisted the change
entirely. But in reality the effort ends up accomplishing next to nothing and
the intended track toward the insertion of a true pull system for the factory
essentially falls by the wayside.
If were going to make effective change, we have to enlighten employees
to the fact that the game isnt to accommodate the old system of production
but rather to do everything possible to completely destroy it! If this means
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

Examining the Basics of an Effective Kaizen Process 11

placing additional work and responsibility on various areas of the factory


in order to drive the influence of Lean Manufacturing forward, it should be
viewed as the price paid in getting there. However, getting everyone on
board and having them energetically join in fully supporting the kind of
change needed is one of the biggest hurdles to clear.
In order to properly set the stage, its appropriate to briefly examine where
the last three decades have driven the basic fundamentals of manufacturing.
For the most part the fundamentals have shifted the focus from sheer volume
to the ability to offer customers a greater variety of products, with better overall quality and deliverability. Toyotas system, which came about over many
years of trial and error, was a complete reversal from the more traditional way
of meeting customer demand. As a summary comparison of conventional
batch manufacturing practices versus the Toyota production system, Exhibit 1.1
denotes the philosophical differences that exist and specifically where the four
principles discussed earlier directly apply (see the underlined items).
The differences noted are not news to those who have a good understanding of Lean and the value it places on eliminating waste and inefficiency. But sometimes a reminder of the scope of the task involved helps
Conventional Manufacturing

Toyota Production System

Production areas work independently

Production areas work in unison

Production pushed onto next


operation

Parts pulled from the source by user

Substantial setup and changeover

Insignificant setup and changeover

Large WIP inventory base

Vastly reduced inventory base

Work areas spread throughout factory

Work areas compact & flexible

Focus placed on overcoming problems

Focus placed on fully resolving problems

High scrap and rework levels

Essentially void of scrap and rework

Low solicitation of improvement ideas

Improvement ideas strongly encouraged

High operating costs

Extremely competitive operating costs

General flow has many stops & storage

Focus placed on uninterrupted flow

Poor workplace organization rules

Outstanding workplace organization

Frequent inherent processing errors

Focus placed on error-free processing

Exhibit 1.1 Key differences in approach.

2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

12 Progressive Kaizen

put things in proper perspective. Unfortunately, Ive seen numerous manufacturing operations where management was quick about declaring their
accomplishments with Lean, but who were far from making the kind of
overall change needed. Although they could always point to islands of
improvement, it was extremely evident that many traits of a conventional
manufacturer still lingered. Production areas for the most part still worked
on an independent basis; production was still pushed through the factory,
and work-in-process inventory levels still remained high, among other signs
indicating no substantial change from the philosophical traits of old.
Admittedly, changing how things have been done for years on end isnt
easy, especially considering that the old way of doing business was long
viewed as the appropriate means of approaching the task. In fact, after
World War II, Japan and others flocked to the United States to learn how
to emulate Americas approach to manufacturing. Joseph M. Juran and W.
Edwards Deming saw some distinct flaws in Americas system of production
and went about developing quality procedures and statistical process controls to which America initially turned a deaf ear. Those same procedures
were later aggressively adopted by the Japanese Union of Scientists and
Engineers, and under the direction of Taiichi Ohno and Shigeo Shingo the
entire process of manufacturing was taken to a new level, out of which grew
the Toyota Production System.
But even with the growing knowledge that change was necessary, factories across the United States continued to be designed to accommodate a
push-production mentality. Unfortunately the news media and others failed
to help the situation, placing the entire blame on the lower cost of labor in
emerging nations, rather than giving appropriate consideration to the basic
system of production being utilized. It is indeed true that the principles of
Lean Manufacturing have grown in acceptance, gaining steady momentum
since the mid-1990s, however, the necessary change wont be accomplished
to the fullest until our educational system and the people responsible for the
nuts and bolts of manufacturing come together in a common mission.
For the plant manager who finds it hard to pull away from what has been
highly successful in the past, I can personally testify that committing yourself to learning all you can about Lean will be extremely beneficial for both
you and those who count on your leadership and direction. If you apply the
same level of zeal and commitment to Lean that youve successfully applied
to conventional manufacturing practices, you can rest confident youre on
the right track. Dont stop if you are less than convinced at your first exposure to the process. Keep an open mind and stay committed to learning all
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

Examining the Basics of an Effective Kaizen Process 13

you can. Go to more than one source and read the wealth of information
thats available in todays market.
But the lack of a full commitment to change goes beyond the matter
of swaying the thinking of senior management. As previously mentioned,
an additional problem to overcome centers on common manufacturing
measurements that drive a firm to do the absolutely wrong things. One
such measurement is equipment utilization, which is theoretically aimed
at reducing the part cost of a setup. Although this sounds efficient, the
hidden expense comes in the form of inventory that has to be stored,
counted, and cared for until the schedule calls for the parts to be used.
This in turn leads to damage, scrap, and rework, and frequently unwarranted obsolescence. Firms have to come to realize whats important is
ensuring that equipment is ready to run when it is needed, rather than
focusing on how much time a machine is senselessly pounding out parts
and unwarranted inventory. They also have to understand that it isnt only
the added inventory thats costly; its the bevy of other wastes that are
compounded by the practice.
There are those who would strive to qualify everything that is currently
going on by saying if it took Toyota decades to make the transition we cant
be expected to accomplish the task in a relatively short period of time.
Thats the kind of thinking that has led us to where we are today. We can
make fast and effective change by taking the best of TPS and putting the
kind of planning and strategy in place around which the average production
worker, manager, and supervisor can more energetically rally. For example,
rather than extending a haphazard effort aimed at inserting each and every
tool of TPS so it can be said they are being used, a much better approach
is to use the tools only as needed in meeting the overall objective of implementing Lean, in each and every area of the factory.
When there is indeed a need, be quick to use one or more of the tools
required, but dont allow any of them to become a driving obsession.
There are operations that have expended literally every available resource
in setting up a highly sophisticated Kanban system, taking months and
sometimes years to fully implement. In the meantime, the factory, as a
whole, remained driven with the same basic operating procedures of old.
Falling into this rut should be seriously avoided if the right kind of progress is to be made.
The end result of Kaizen activity can usually be placed in one of two categories: the type that is highly effective versus the type that is strongly disruptive. Effective Kaizen occurs when it serves to make lasting change for
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

14 Progressive Kaizen

the better, the kind of change clearly recognized as such by management,


shop floor operators, supervisors, and others. Kaizen that is truly effective
becomes something extremely visible in terms of improvement and can be
measured in inventory reduction, advancements in throughput, the removal
of significant scrap and rework, and the enhancement of operator efficiency,
to name a few of the more important.
Disruptive Kaizen on the other hand, is any form of Kaizen activity
that leaves shop floor operators, supervisors, and others feeling frustrated,
uncertain of its value, unsure of its intended goals, and generally confused
about its merits. Unfortunately, there is as much disruptive Kaizen in modern
business as that which is truly effective and it has nothing to do with the talent and ability of those involved. For the most part, what it has to do with is
inadequate planning, execution, and follow-through.
It is extremely important to get the most out of each and every Kaizen
effort conducted, because every effort that ends up with less than clearly
positive results adds an ounce of lead to the anchor of skepticism. Preaching
the right message is to no avail if management doesnt see the kind of
results that will serve to motivate them to invest a lasting level of support in
the effort. The same holds true if the workforce doesnt perceive it as something of real value to their jobs and the future.
Many Kaizen events end up being show-and-tell affairs, with no real
strategy aimed at coupling the changes made to a master plan of implementation. This truly fits a disruptive Kaizen description. Its defined as disruptive because the employees involved are made to feel Lean is important and
that the changes they have diligently worked to make is part and parcel of
the revision of the entire factory over a period of time. When they begin to
see the area revert back to the old wayseven slightlyit becomes an indicator that the company really isnt serious about Lean (which of course isnt
always true) and that their work and efforts for the most part were wasted
time and energy.
Good effective Kaizen efforts leave no doubt as to the value of the
process and become the building blocks for pursuing further change
in an aggressive manner. But far too often a companys Kaizen process
begins to falter as time goes by. This doesnt occur because there wasnt a
clear opportunity to make some very strong accomplishments. It happens
because enthusiasm for the process, on the part of both management and
the participants involved, slowly begins to wane. As things begin to waver,
employees start to see the outgrowth of a hybrid system of production
that incorporates some of both worlds (batch and Lean), with no apparent
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

Examining the Basics of an Effective Kaizen Process 15

strategy to fully and completely change the way business has always been
conducted.
One of the biggest enemies of the full insertion of Lean Manufacturing
is that its easy for it to be perceived as just another one of the countless
initiatives and special programs that have come and gone over the years.
Every company has them and for some organizations its somewhat of a
way of life. Although Lean efforts arent squelched as being less important
than any of the other programs or processes undertaken, Lean implementation commonly isnt elevated to a level of exceptional importance, with the
understanding that without it becoming an integral part of any true progress
made, the company faces a future of uncertainty.

Matter of Misguided Pragmatism


Some people refer to this as paradigms, but paradigms alone arent the
entire problem. Proclivities involve the tendency to behave in a particular
manner or to like a particular thing. Pragmatism is striving to base judgment
on practical solutions rather than the theoretical. Either one of these is harmless in itself when it comes to Lean Manufacturing, but combined as a mindset they can serve to establish serious roadblocks.
The issue comes to bear when leadership outwardly expresses (and
essentially accepts) that change is needed, but has the proclivity to cling to
the old or usual way of doing things. That on its own wouldnt necessarily establish a roadblock but coupled with strong feelings that the old or
usual is the only practical or reliable way and you have what I like to refer
to as misguided pragmatism. When push comes to shove, anything other
than the usual way is essentially perceived as being experimental in nature.
This in turn sets the stage for slippage in implementation and all sorts of
excuses for not aggressively pursuing needed change to some clearly established level of accomplishment. This is actually more subconsciously driven
than specifically intended, but can be a force in opposition to making the
kind of change a factory needs. American industry, on average, has to learn
to recognize this particular flaw and manage to overcome any hurdle it may
establish in making Lean a full reality. Otherwise a truly energetic thrust,
aimed at making U.S. manufacturing world-competitive, will never take
shape as it should.
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

16 Progressive Kaizen

What the mind-set of every employee (including management) has to


come to be is:
Its a new world and we have to fully eliminate the practices that
are slowly but persistently taking us down a familiar road toward a
destiny of high uncertainty.
Once that hurdle is fully cleared, the only question becomes how to make it
happen in the fastest and most effective manner.
Change can be forced, with the hope that once its done the right steps
were taken and nothing of importance was overlooked. But a much more
workable approach is elevating the use of a well-known commodity in
Kaizen to a serious focus by the workforce and from there allowing the process to work by getting out of the way of progress.
If it sounds like that infers management can sometimes inadvertently
get in the way of needed change, thats exactly what its meant to say. Not
intentionally, of course, but because of operating practices that have served
to feed misguided pragmatism. In making needed change, a conscious effort
has to be made to remain receptive to new thoughts and ideas, and especially to new ways of doing things. Doing this sometimes means stopping
long enough to think hard before reacting negatively to changes that might
not initially come across as being practical or absolutely necessary. This is
especially true when it comes to the matter of Kaizen.

Two Major Dos and Donts of Kaizen


In order to get the best out of Kaizen, it is important to start by understanding the dos and donts associated with a viable Kaizen process. A couple
of the more important to mention on the front end are:
1. Kaizen should never be performed unless the maintenance function
is completely aligned and fully capable of supporting the effort. This
means having the necessary resources and materials available that allow
change to be made in a fast and effective manner, at the participating
teams discretion. What frequently happens, however, is that maintenance support becomes an afterthought and as a result the initial goals
and objectives established on the front end of a Kaizen event end up
being grossly underachieved.
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

Examining the Basics of an Effective Kaizen Process 17

2. Kaizen should never be performed unless the right people are involved.
Involving the right people means establishing a cross-functional group
of participants (both hourly and salaried), a few of whom have full
decision-making powers without seeking approval from anyone. In
most cases this means the operating manager of the area where the
change is scheduled to take place, along with representatives from various support functions, such as purchasing and materials, quality control, scheduling, and so forth.
In my numerous consulting ventures, I cannot truly point to one Kaizen
event where all the appropriate participants were scheduled to attend
and participate. There were always plenty of excuses as to why not, and
although the events usually turned out to be successful, this would not have
happened if I had not taken it upon myself to literally demand the involvement of the right, required, people. How to make this happen without such
an influence is one of the keys to making Kaizen a formidable competitive
weapon.
Creating an environment for a truly effective Kaizen process centers on:
1. Understanding the different types of Kaizen and when and how to use
them.
2. Developing a well-structured process for training and implementation.
3. Driving Kaizen thinking through the rank and file.
4. Changing the principal role of the shop floor supervisor.
5. Providing advanced training for a select group of hourly employees.
6. Creating a high level of support and enthusiasm within the upper management ranks.

Evaluating and Rating a Companys Kaizen Efforts


To begin, it is important to take a look at how effective an operations existing Kaizen process actually is. There are eight factors listed that should be
rated: Yes, Somewhat, or No. Given a conscious effort to be as factual
as possible, this will help point out the strengths and weaknesses of an
operations Kaizen process in meeting what should be considered minimal
expectations.
An accumulated score of 75 is extremely good and anyone achieving that level of accomplishment is well on his way to making Lean
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

18 Progressive Kaizen

1. A formal schedule for waste reduction activity has been developed and
approved by top management, which details when Kaizen events will be
conducted and what specific areas or production processes will be involved,
along with the expressed purpose for the exercise, the ultimate goal to be
achieved, and the estimated impact on the bottom line.
Yes

Somewhat

No

2. A member of the senior management staff (reporting to the plant manager)


holds responsibility for Lean Manufacturing activities, including associated goals,
objectives, and overall results. In addition, a full-time individual has been
appointed and trained, as needed, to conduct and oversee Kaizen activities and
overall Lean implementation.
Yes

Somewhat

No

3. A formal budget for Kaizen has been established and approved that covers
anticipated expenses, including maintenance and standard event
requirements for such things as completely laying out the area anew,
developing new or revised fixturing, special handling devices, visual controls,
and so on.
Yes

Somewhat

No

4. The plant manager holds biweekly Kaizen update meetings (at a minimum) that
are attended by the full staff. At the meeting, goals, objectives, and results are
reviewed and any problems discussed and fully resolved. In addition, the Kaizen
schedule is revised as needed to meet new or unanticipated issues, related to
the overall implementation of Lean and business in general.
Yes

Somewhat

No

5. At least one High-Impact Kaizen event is held annually, along with a


minimum of two Training and Implementation (TI) Kaizen events monthly
(roughly one every two weeks.) This standard relates to conducting a full
event, which can range from two to three days for a TI event to one to two
weeks for a high-impact event. Note: Specific information regarding a HighImpact and TI Kaizen event can be found in Overview of the Various Types of
Kaizen, in this chapter.
Yes

Somewhat

No

6. Some form of Kaizen is persistently used to address day-to-day production


problems or issues responsible for creating downtime, scrap or rework, product
quality issues, schedule deficiencies, and so on.
Yes

Somewhat

Exhibit 1.2 Kaizen evaluation form.

2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

No

Examining the Basics of an Effective Kaizen Process 19

7. Plans are in place and efforts are being extended to train a vast majority of all
employees, hourly and salaried, in the basics of Lean Manufacturing, including
both classroom and hands-on shop floor Kaizen.
Yes

Somewhat

No

8. The importance of Kaizen has been thoroughly communicated to all employees


and encouragement of the process is consistently highlighted and touted
throughout the factory and the office arena.
Yes

Somewhat

No

Note: Score each Yes 10 points, each Somewhat 5 points, and each No 0 points.

Exhibit 1.2 (Continued) Kaizen evaluation form.

Manufacturing a way of life in his facility. In an honest and unbiased


evaluation, most factories in the United States would likely score 50 or
below. But to be truly world-competitive, a score that approaches 70, at
a minimum, is needed. Exhibit 1.2 speaks to the eight factors outlined in
more detail.

Developing a Formal Schedule for Kaizen


Doing this requires a considerable amount of planning and forethought,
including a look at the various types of Kaizen, along with when, where,
and what the expressed purpose of the assigned effort will be. In the preparation and use of such a document an 18-month outline is a good start, with
the understanding that the freedom exists to revise the last 6 months of the
plan as conditions warrant. For every established Kaizen activity noted there
should be a column headed Purpose where the reasoning for the effort
is explained. This helps establish the overall logic behind the activity and
assists in ensuring that nothing is taken for granted. There should also be a
second column headed Estimated Cost where an effort is made to estimate
the total expense involved, including required materials and the potential
maintenance work involved.
Even though the initial plan prepared for and communicated to the workforce may only cover 12 to 18 months in duration, an overall master plan
should be developed to include the timeframe estimated to change the entire
factory to the full incorporation of Lean throughout. In doing so, the master
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

20 Progressive Kaizen

plan could potentially cover a period of two to three years depending on


conditions, the applied resources available, and other such matters.
The purpose of the master plan is twofold: to define the extent of the
work involved and the approach that will be taken in making a total factory transition, and to estimate, to the best of ones ability, the cost of making such a transition and obtaining a buy-in from management to proceed.
This document will undoubtedly change as time goes by, but every effort
should be made to stick to it as outlined. Something every factory should
guard against is changing the master plan to accommodate existing conditions. A far better approach is adapting conditions to support the plan. It all
boils down to remaining fully dedicated to making the change required and
doing so in the shortest period of time possible.
Without such planning there is absolutely nothing to ensure a solid
management commitment regarding the extent and cost of such a venture.
Conversely there is nothing for management to use to track the stated mission. Just as important is that the plan provide the Lean coordinator with a
clear understanding of where and how to proceed. Such an understanding
normally isnt the case for most Lean initiatives undertaken on American
soil, which unfortunately leaves the overall application of Kaizen up to
chance or how far someone of influence decides to pursue it.

Assigning a Qualified Full-Time Lean/Kaizen Coordinator


Coordinating a Lean/Kaizen initiative, resulting in the kind of change
needed, requires a highly qualified individual dedicated full time to the
effort. Anything less will simply not suffice in todays highly competitive
environment. The person selected would ideally report to the plant manager
or the individual seen as the ultimate decision maker for the factory. Even in
the smaller operations the job should be full time until the factory has made
an effective shift in its overall system of production.
There are essentially two alternatives to accomplishing this. The first is
to take an existing employee who displays the ability to communicate effectively with others and provide that person with the essential training needed
to assume the role. Ideally this would be someone who has had experience
with Lean, otherwise the time required to bring them along would be extensive. The second alternative would be to hire an individual who has had
some relatively strong experience in Lean Manufacturing, and has preferably led and taught others in the science of Kaizen. Either way, there has
to be some reasonable confidence that the assigned individual has what it
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

Examining the Basics of an Effective Kaizen Process 21

takes to make the kind of change required and is someone who will stand
up as needed to see it accomplished. It isnt a job for the meek or the easily
swayed and it requires strength of character and a willingness to challenge
others, when and as the need arises.
For the company interested in pursuing the outlined process, care has to
be taken to ensure the selected individual doesnt come armed with some
seriously preconceived notions about Lean implementation, which could
serve to hamper the strategy outlined for the advanced Lean implementation
process. The individual needs to clearly understand that the roadmap for
implementation has been firmly established by the company and the Lean
coordinators job is to see that its carried out to the fullest. Most individuals
with solid experience in Lean can easily relate to the components spelled
out for ALIP, Progressive Kaizen, and so on, and can further understand the
value of incorporating a WRAP initiative, once enough workforce training
has been conducted.
Promoting and training internally is often seen as the proper thing to do
for the role, considering the opportunity for advancement should exist and
that the person stepping into the job would be a known commodity. But it
isnt always the right thing to do. Lean implementation is a gigantic task if
done properly; it best requires someone who has the proper knowledge and
ability to direct a complete change to the existing system of production, and
who then would move on to see that continuous improvement was made to
the new system. It should not be considered a project-based role, which has
a clear ending point, but rather one that requires a persistent and qualified
influence on a long-term basis.

Establishing a Formal Budget for Kaizen


A budget for Kaizen should not be thrown into an overall training account or
hidden within the confines of a standard budgeted line item. It should stand
entirely on its own merits and be reviewed accordingly. The major reason is
to keep the attention level high and to ensure Kaizen doesnt fall short of its
intended quest. In the course of a standard budget review, when Kaizen activity becomes buried in another line item, there is absolutely no way of knowing for certain if it is being actively and aggressively pursued as intended.
The budget for Kaizen should represent the intent of a Master Kaizen
Plan prepared by the Lean coordinator and approved by management.
All associated expenses should be covered in the assigned budget; including employee training costs, maintenance expense, and the like. How to
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

22 Progressive Kaizen

construct a master Kaizen plan is covered in Chapter 5 and is built around


the parameters of ALIP. If ROI (Return On Investment) doesnt approach tenfold or more, its time for a sitdown for a serious discussion about the depth
of Kaizen activity being pursued.
On the other hand, immediate cost savings should not be the principal
measurement of success. As an example, one of the major benefits of a good
Lean/Kaizen initiative is space savings, which doesnt pose an immediate
payback. But as time goes by space savings provide the opportunity to lay
out the entire factory anew and make room for added product or increased
volume, without the expense of brick and mortar, which can be a substantial cost savings to any company.

Number and Type of Kaizen Events Conducted


A common deficiency that exists concerns the lack of conducting Kaizen
events on a regular ongoing basis. There are many reasons involved for
this discrepancy, such as other priorities, new initiatives, revised production
schedules, and more. But the chief culprit is due to management not making
certain that other facets of the business do not serve as stumbling blocks to
fully implementing Lean.
Over a period of time, Kaizen events often become less and less important, which happens as a result of the effort providing inadequate results
or an inability on the part of the factory to maintain the changes that have
been made. When an operation reaches this point its in danger of completely losing the momentum required for Lean implementation. Thus, all the
more reason to ensure a formal schedule for Kaizen is prepared, approved,
and tracked on a continuing basis, which would include the precise number
of events that will be conducted.
Both the exact number and the type of events will vary from operation to operation depending on various conditions. But at least one highimpact Kaizen event should be held annually, along with at least two
Training and Implementation (TI) Kaizen events monthly (see Overview
of the Various Types of Kaizen in a following section of this chapter for
more detail). This would mean at least 20 formal Kaizen events should be
conducted annually, at a minimum, up until the time Lean Manufacturing
has a firm foothold on the entire operation. In defining what a firm foothold means, it essentially boils down to a time when every member of the
workforce has received some level of effective hands-on training in Lean.
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

Examining the Basics of an Effective Kaizen Process 23

Scope of Kaizen Training


The scope of Kaizen training should involve all salaried employees, as
well as a large percentage of the hourly workforce. Ideally, each and every
member of the workforce, including clerical positions, would be required to
attend and participate in at least one TI Kaizen event. The idea, of course,
is to provide everyone with firsthand knowledge and experience in the
process. Doing this is especially necessary if Kaizen is driven down to the
individual job level. More regarding this can be found in Chapter 2, under
Value of Inserting a WRAP Initiative.
Any manufacturing operation that is truly serious about Lean
Manufacturing should insist that every employee be exposed to Kaizen training. This helps the entire workforce understand the importance of waste
reduction activity and how the mechanics behind the process of Kaizen can
apply to any job, whether it is on the shop floor or in the office arena.

Overview of Various Types of Kaizen


Properly defining Kaizen work cannot be lumped into one general category.
In reality there are four distinct types of Kaizen. The first is High-Impact
Kaizen, which is aimed at making dramatic improvements and solid inroads
into revising the way production is conducted in a given area of the factory. Out of this activity will generally come the extensive training of mid- to
high-level managers and supervisors in Lean Manufacturing, along with providing the experience of making hands-on change on the shop floor. Very
often the end result is a showcase area that is representative of where the
factory, as a whole, is headed in the future. The second type is Training and
Implementation Kaizen, which is aimed at training the workforce over a span
of time and making smaller but important changes on the shop floor. The
third type is Problem Resolution Kaizen, which is directed at resolving recurring production problems and putting them to bed permanently. The last type
is Sustaining Kaizen, which is used to make additional ongoing change to the
initial improvements implemented in a high-impact and other types of formal
Kaizen activity, along with ensuring that new equipment and production processing are installed with good Lean Manufacturing practices in mind.
The approach and technique for each type of Kaizen noted is different,
because each represents different end goals and objectives. Its therefore
important to plan and implement strategy accordingly.
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

24 Progressive Kaizen

High-Impact Kaizen is defined as making large sweeping change to an


entire production area of the factory, normally involving a recognized shop
floor department, such as a select final assembly line, a welding or brazing
department, and the like. The training and implementation effort is extensive and aimed at entirely remethodizing and rearranging the area involved,
setting in place the overriding principles of Lean Manufacturing, reducing
space requirements, substantially changing flow, and dramatically reducing
work-in-process inventory.
In some cases, the appropriate plan of action will call for fully decentralizing the department and placing equipment and operators at point-of-use.
Performing this type of Kaizen requires a high level of participation from
almost every support function, including quality assurance, production
control, scheduling, purchasing, and even accounting, sales, and marketing
under certain circumstances. This type of Kaizen is performed sparingly
due to the time commitment and cost involved, but its extremely important and knowing when and just how far to take it is vital to making Lean
Manufacturing a full and absolute success. The specifics for this event can
be found in Chapter 4 under the heading, Conducting the Factorys First
High-Impact Kaizen Event.
Training and Implementation Kaizen is a mini version of High-Impact
Kaizen and is performed for the expressed purpose of providing knowledge
to the entire workforce over an extended period of time. However, there is
also a secondary objective called implementation, which refers to making
meaningful change on the shop floor. In the training and implementation
Kaizen event an area of the factory is selected and change is carried through
to completion or near completion. Ideally, the group reassembles at a later
point to audit the changes made and to follow up on any work that was
impossible to complete during the scope of the original event.
Training and Implementation Kaizen requires a solid commitment
from management to ensure a majority of the workforce (both hourly
and salaried) receives a minimum of 16 to 24 hours training in Lean
Manufacturing. The task can be stretched over a period of time but the
goal should be to have 75 to 80% of the workforce trained within a
12-month period of starting a Lean initiative. If an operation has been into
Lean for greater than 12 months and hasnt as yet achieved that objective,
they are running behind the timeframe that should be established for this
particular objective. The specifics for training and implementation Kaizen
can be found in Chapter 4, under the heading, Getting the Most Out of
Training and Implementation Kaizen.
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

Examining the Basics of an Effective Kaizen Process 25

Problem Resolution Kaizen is used to correct a situation that is seriously affecting throughput, quality, or the ability to achieve customer
requirements. It can be used in areas where high impact and other types
of Kaizen have been applied, along with those that have not as yet had
Kaizen performed. The idea is to resolve a recurring production problem
and to do so within the parameters of good Lean Manufacturing principles,
so it remains an effective change as the factory makes the shift from batch
to pull production.
Here, the emphasis is usually placed on an individual piece of production equipment or a group of like equipment. The Kaizen event is typically
project-based and led by the plants Lean coordinator, utilizing plant engineering personnel and hourly employees attached to the process. Again, the
idea is to quickly and permanently resolve a problem within the parameters
and guidelines of solid Lean Manufacturing practices. The specifics for this
event can be found in Chapter 4, under the heading, Driving the Use of
Problem Resolution Kaizen.
Sustaining Kaizen is defined as making incremental improvements to
an area that has had high-impact and other types of Kaizen previously
performed. The sustaining Kaizen event is notably shorter in duration and
principally involves personnel tied to the area involved (i.e., the production
supervisor, various production employees, and select sustaining engineering personnel). On the other hand, it is good to include a number of fresh
participants, as time and resources allow, who are given the opportunity to
learn about Lean Manufacturing and how the process works. Such participants often bring a combination of fresh ideas to the table, because of not
being influenced by the typical way of doing business.
Although considerable change is normally achieved during a highimpact event, there are usually items that cannot be fully completed
over the course of that or any other Kaizen event. Sustaining Kaizen is
the tool for completing change to its fullest. In such a sustaining Kaizen
event, certain members of the original Kaizen team and a small number of those directly tied to the area come together for a two- to threeday session in order to fully complete various projects that were left
unresolved. A good way to look at sustaining Kaizen is as an insurance
policy to make certain that what was started with other forms of Kaizen
activity is fully and completely accomplished. In doing so, opportunities
for further improvement will usually surface. The specifics for this event
can be found in Chapter 4, under Understanding the Role and Scope of
Sustaining Kaizen.
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

26 Progressive Kaizen

Most companies do not categorize Kaizen activity, but there is an important difference in the various types of Kaizen being performed that should
be recognized, inasmuch as the approach, technique, and tactics applied
will and should vary accordingly. Metaphorically, its somewhat like participating on both sides of a football squad. Both the offensive and defensive
sides of the game can be described as playing football. But the devil is in
the details and the strategy and tactics used to play football on offense are
immensely different from playing defense. Viewing all forms of Kaizen as
essentially one and the same is somewhat like approaching both the offensive and defensive sides of football with the same strategy in mind, which
will almost guarantee that the ultimate objectives of Lean are never carried
out to the fullest.
There are indeed special Kaizen events that should be planned and
handled accordingly. High-Impact Kaizen would fit that category and a portion of Training and Implementation Kaizen would also apply. Sustaining
Kaizen, on the other hand, should in no way be viewed as a special event,
but rather an integral part of a plants day-to-day activity. In addition,
Problem Resolution Kaizen should be used to address and resolve the many
production issues that typically arise in a factory trying to make a shift from
a batch-driven system of production. One way to look at it is if some form
of Kaizen activity isnt occurring each and every day in a factory, Lean definitely isnt being applied as it should.
Recapping, there are four distinct types of Kaizen that should be recognized, each requiring its own specific plans and strategies:
Type
Type
Type
Type

I: High-Impact Kaizen
II: Training and Implementation Kaizen
III: Problem Resolution Kaizen
IV: Sustaining Kaizen

Each of the various types of Kaizen noted works in unison with the others to funnel improvement into the foundation for the full insertion of Lean
Manufacturing. No particular type is fundamentally more important than
another. Each has its distinct purpose and role in the overall equation.
However, under the best circumstances they would be introduced to a factory in the order noted.
High-Impact Kaizen is the best tool to introduce a factory to Lean
Manufacturing. It shows the depth and extent of the change required and
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

Examining the Basics of an Effective Kaizen Process 27

can serve as a showcase for each and every employee, visitor, and others to
see. If done properly and used as an example, there will be few supervisors
and production operators who will not see it as something positive, because
even for those who have not as yet established a good understanding of the
process, the showcase area will almost always leave the impression of being
a substantially neater place to work.
For companies that have used some sort of High-Impact Kaizen, the
biggest mistake made is not requiring supervisors of other areas in the factory to bring their workers for a tour and to make the point that the entire
plant is scheduled for the same type of change. Doing this sets the stage for
ensuring that everyone knows where the factory is headed in the future. But
this has to be further reinforced with continuing communications and a plan
of action to take the process to the next step.
A High-Impact Kaizen event is usually one to two weeks in duration and
involves a cross-functional group of participants. Depending on various factors, the expense of such an event can be notable. However, if done right,
the return on investment can be extremely significant.
Training and Implementation Kaizen should be started as soon as possible after the development of the showcase area noted. The objective should
be to train as many employees as possible and make changes on the shop
floor that are in keeping with an overall game plan to expose each and
every area of the factory to the process. At some point it will be necessary
to lay out the entire plant anew to support the implementation of Lean more
readily across the entire production arena. In all likelihood this would be
the first of two (possibly three) such changes in overall plant layout; which
given an aggressive implementation schedule, would take place over an 18to 24-month period. This is also where the greatest cost of implementation
would be required, in the form of moving equipment and training employees. But again the money would be well spent and the return on investment
should be noteworthy.
Problem Resolution Kaizen can most effectively be utilized after Training
and Implementation Kaizen is actively in place: operators and others will
have been trained in the basics and thus have a better understanding of
Lean Manufacturing in general. The first objective of problem resolution
Kaizen is to get down to the root cause of a problem. This requires a select
group of people to go through a careful brainstorming session before taking
action of any kind. Doing this avoids spending time, energy, and effort on
fixes that do not fully resolve the matter.
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

28 Progressive Kaizen

There are cases where root cause is inherent to the design of the equipment, which can sometimes be expensive to resolve. When this occurs, it
will usually take a top management decision to either live with the problem for a given period of time or move forward immediately with a capital
appropriation. Either way, the problem will have been clearly identified and
all the responsible parties alerted accordingly.
Sustaining Kaizen is again used in two manners. The first involves making further improvements, as needed, to changes made using other forms
of Kaizen. The second use of sustaining Kaizen becomes the effort made to
sustain the overall thrust to Lean Manufacturing, once a factory has made an
entire shift to its system of production.

Progressive Kaizen Initiative


Coupling the various types of Kaizen under an all-encompassing process
aimed at fully and effectively inserting Lean Manufacturing is the charter
of Progressive Kaizen. Figure1.4 indicates the applied scope of each particular type of Kaizen event, the typical event duration, and the number of
participants involved, along with the depth of change normally conducted.

Precisely What the Term Event Means


Some clarification could be warranted regarding the precise definition of
how the term event applies, inasmuch as its spoken to repeatedly throughout the content:
A Kaizen event is a formally structured activity that takes a select group
of participants away from their normal jobs for a specified period of
time. That time can range from one to two days, to one to two weeks,
depending on the type of Kaizen activity involved.
A Kaizen event has two distinct purposes. The first is to train employees in the value of Lean Manufacturing principles and how to use the
tools involved. The other is to make effective change to the production
area or business process being addressed, which can be a single piece
of production equipment, an entire line of equipment, a business activity such as order entry, or even an entire department or established production area of the factory. For the shop floor, the scope of change is
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

Examining the Basics of an Effective Kaizen Process 29

Progressive Kaizen
The various types of Kaizen, their specific use and
applied impact

Training &
Implementation
Kaizen

Sustaining Kaizen

Problem
Resolution Kaizen

Scope

Revision to an
entire
production
area

Revision to a
select
production
process

Improvements
to individual
work tasks &
previous Kaizen
efforts

Elimination of
recurring
production
problems/issues

Typical
Length
of Event

One to two
weeks

Three to four
days

One to two
days

Typically one
day

Typical
# of
Participants

20 to 25

10 to 15

8 to 12

Varies
greatly but
typically 47

Depth of
Training

Intensive

Basic

Basic

Minimum to
basic

Depth of
Change

Extensive

Moderate to
extensive

Moderate to
extensive

Varies but can


be major

Special
Requirements

Significant
maint.
support

Active
participation of
knowledgeable
operators

Active
support of
area manager

Active
support of
maint. & area
manager

High-Impact
Kaizen

Figure 1.4 Progressive Kaizen.

2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

30 Progressive Kaizen

essentially unlimited, depending on the number of participants involved


and having the adequate support of the plants maintenance function.
Special note: It should be pointed out that all waste reduction activity doesnt have to occur in the form of a structured event. One of the
more important matters addressed is the need to drive Kaizen down to
an individual job level and to offer a means of doing this in a highly
effective manner.

Purpose and Scope of a Progressive Kaizen Effort


The assigned purpose of Progressive Kaizen is to recognize and ensure an
appropriate use of the various categories of Kaizen activity, both formal and
informal. On a formal basis, four types of Kaizen events are used to train
employees and move the implementation of Lean Manufacturing forward.
On an informal basis, Kaizen activity is driven down to an individual job
level and accomplishments are rewarded accordingly. The overall scope of
a progressive Kaizen initiative is aimed at utilizing Kaizen to its fullest in
accelerating the full implementation of Lean Manufacturing.

Ensuring Planned Changes Are Carried Out to the Fullest


Ive often been asked why I was so insistent that nothing could be claimed
as a group accomplishment unless it was carried out to full completion during the course of a Kaizen event. The answer lies in the fact that changing
the system of production as quickly as possible is paramount, if America
hopes to achieve and maintain a competitive influence in the world of manufacturing. Unfortunately good intentions buy a manufacturing operation
absolutely nothing until they are fully implemented. Therefore, establishing a sense of urgency in making the kind of change needed is extremely
important.
Once participants fully understand this and decide on the level of
change they intend to strive to make, the Lean coordinator should take
their plan to senior management and obtain a buy-in before any serious
work begins on the factory floor. One of the very worst things that can
happen in a Kaizen event is to back participants away from a change after
floor work has begun. It sends the wrong message to everyone involved.
If any serious doubts linger regarding the change the team would like to
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

Examining the Basics of an Effective Kaizen Process 31

make, management should take it upon itself to personally address the


group and explain the reason why. A word of caution, however, is carefully to avoid delaying, minimizing, or completely stopping change that
falls within the parameters of good Lean Manufacturing principles. If the
situation boils down to a matter of not being able to afford the change
being proposed, simply say so and work to build an understanding as to if
and when it can be fully carried out. Otherwise strive as diligently as possible to accommodate the teams plans.
RELATED EXPERIENCE: In a two-week Kaizen event I was conducting
for a company, we were almost done with the first weeks training and
ready to enter the weekend making change on the shop floor. I was
informed midday on Friday that the maintenance function had encountered a serious problem with the plants air compression and the crew
that was scheduled to move and relocate equipment for the event was
going to be cut in half. This left us with a serious problem. We could
proceed as planned and allow what gains could be made over the second week or we could do something else. I suggested that the remaining portion of the event be delayed until we could arrange a time for
me to return to the factory and pick up where we left off. This required
me to adjust my schedule and for the company to pay the expense of
extra airfare, but it was agreed if I was willing to return at a later date
the company was more than willing to absorb the added travel expense
involved. To accommodate a revisit of the training conducted during
the first week, prior to starting change on the shop floor, I arranged to
return three weeks later and conduct a needed refresher session on
Saturday morning. When it was all said and done, the second week
of change went exceptionally well and the full extent of the changes
planned by the group was carried out to completion.
There are indeed times when it is better off to delay the full completion
of an event rather than minimizing the change the team involved plans to
make. As an example, for pressing business purposes it could be that one
or a number of the key participants is required to leave an event. Instead of
trying to manage and accomplish less without their participation, simply stop
the event and pick up again at a time when they are free to participate. This
is especially true during the initial training and planning phase of the event.
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

32 Progressive Kaizen

The goal of making every effort to see that planned changes during
an event are fully and completely implemented should apply whether the
services of an outside consultant are involved or the plant is conducting
an event entirely on its own. This again goes back to building a sense of
urgency in the need for change and striving to remove any obstacles that
could potentially get in the way.

Production Managers Role in a Kaizen Event


One of the biggest commitments of the factorys production manager, when
it comes to Lean, is direct participation in a formal Kaizen activity. Because
titles vary from company to company, the production manager is defined as
the individual normally reporting directly to the plant manager, who holds
the responsibility for managing and directing the day-to-day activities of the
factorys production workforce. The following addresses a set of actions that
would ideally pertain to this position:
The production manager should personally attend the opening of any
and all Kaizen events and say a few words in support of the effort.
Over the course of the various types of Kaizen events conducted, the
production manager should always attend the afternoon wrap-up sessions, where the teams report on results and discuss any particular
issues that might arise. Although it is not absolutely essential, it is also
beneficial for the production manager to occasionally drop by and
observe some of the training going on. This shows a keen interest in
the topics being covered and discussed.
The production manager should further attend the closing session
of an event, where participants make a presentation on the scope of
the change and the results achieved. Here, the production manager
would ideally be involved in passing out certificates of completion and
offering congratulations to the group as a whole. Under normal event
activities a plant tour is conducted after the closing presentation, which
allows everyone in attendance to see the physical changes made. The
production manager should always be present unless out of town on
business and should ideally arrange to have a large portion of the
reporting staff attend the group presentation and plant tour.
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

Examining the Basics of an Effective Kaizen Process 33

The important thing is for the production manager to show a keen interest and stay abreast of the training and changes going on. A Kaizen event
that is properly conducted requires a great deal of work by the group
involved and one of the best rewards is knowing their participation is clearly
endorsed and appreciated by the highest level of factory management.

Key Summary Points


Elevating the Use and Effectiveness of Kaizen
It is extremely important to get the most out of each and every Kaizen effort
conducted, because every effort that ends up with less than clearly positive results adds an ounce of lead to the anchor of skepticism. Preaching the
right message is to no avail if management doesnt see the kind of results
that will serve to motivate it to invest a continuing level of support in the
effort. The same holds true if the workforce doesnt perceive it as something
of real value to their jobs.

The Four Types of Progressive Kaizen


Properly defining Kaizen work cannot be lumped into one general category. In reality there are four distinct types of Kaizen: (1) High-Impact
Kaizen, (2) Training and Implementation Kaizen, (3) Problem Resolution
Kaizen, and (4) Sustaining Kaizen. The approach and technique used for
each is different, inasmuch as each represents different end goals and
objectives. Its therefore important to plan and implement strategy accordingly (see Figure 1.4).

Developing a Master Plan for Kaizen


The purpose of a master plan for Kaizen is twofold. The first is to define the
extent of the work involved and the approach that will be used in making
a total factory transition to Lean Manufacturing. The second is to estimate,
to the best of ones ability, the cost of making such a transition and subsequently gain a buy-in from senior management (see Developing a Formal
Schedule for Kaizen).
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

34 Progressive Kaizen

Developing a Formal Budget for Kaizen


The established budget for Kaizen should not be thrown into an overall
training account for the factory or hidden within the confines of a standard budgeted line item. It should stand entirely on its own merits and
be reviewed accordingly. The major reason is to keep the attention level
high and ensure that Kaizen doesnt fall short of its intended quest (see
Establishing a Formal Budget for Kaizen).

Applied Purpose of a Kaizen Event


A Kaizen event has two distinct purposes. One is to train employees in the
value of Lean Manufacturing principles and how to use the tools employed.
The other is to make effective change to the production area or business
process being addressed; which can be a single piece of production equipment, an entire line of equipment, a business activity such as order entry, or
even an entire department or established production area of the factory. For
the shop floor, the scope of change is essentially unlimited depending on
the number of participants involved and the adequate support of the plants
maintenance function (see Precisely What the Term Event Means).

Progressive Kaizen Initiative


Coupling the various types of Kaizen under an all-encompassing initiative,
aimed at fully and effectively inserting Lean Manufacturing, is identified as
Progressive Kaizen. Figure 1.4 indicates the applied scope of each particular type of Kaizen event, the typical event duration, the number of participants involved, and the depth of change normally conducted.

2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

Chapter 2

Addressing Key Roles and


Supporting Tactics
No approach to the implementation of Lean Manufacturing can be duly
successful without adequately addressing and revising the role and responsibilities of certain key players in the process. In addition, there has to be a
well-thought out set of tactics that serve to support the effort. However, it all
starts by establishing the proper frame of mind.

Clearing the Five-Inch Hazard


An interesting comparison to Lean implementation can be made to a comment Bobby Jones, the golfing great, reportedly said about the game. His
comment was: The toughest hazard to clear is the five inch space between
the ears. The same logic could apply in many cases to Lean Manufacturing.
In approaching the task of implementing Lean, the mind must be free of any
lack of confidence. This is especially true of plant managers, who in turn
have to see that those reporting to them do the same. Without this being
accomplished on the front end of a Lean initiative, the chances of success
are just as bad as the golfer whose mind is bombarded with doubt or anxiety about an upcoming shot.
Past experience to a large extent has to be disregarded and there has to
be faith that the undertaking is unquestionably the right thing to do. The
basic mind-set has to change from What can I do to insert some level of
Lean into the operation? to What can I do to make Lean a complete and
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

35

36 Progressive Kaizen

unerring success? Once that hazard is fully cleared, implementing the process can start to become a positive and rewarding experience, rather than a
less than welcome challenge.
Enough cant be said about an absolute dedication to seeing that Lean
Manufacturing is fully and effectively applied throughout an entire factory;
and to further ensure this is done in the fastest manner possible. Otherwise
what is currently left of manufacturing in the United States and any hopes
to build it again to an adequate level of long-term competitiveness will only
continue to dissipate. Without Lean, its somewhat like trying to fight a raging
forest fire with a squirt gun. One may be able to put out a small infinitesimal
hot spot, but the huge fire of competition still blazes on unchallenged.
The reality every plant manager has to face is that the world of manufacturing has changed and every day of delay in correcting the practices of old
will only serve to put a company another step behind the competition. But
in addition, common thinking about roles and responsibilities has to change,
if a full and effective shift to Lean is fully accomplished. The focus has to be
greater than just getting added productivity out of employees. Added productivity will come naturally from having employees use their knowledge
and abilities to the fullest extent. But this is not possible if plant leadership
is not strongly confident and thusly motivated to meet the called-for challenge of the future.

Taking a Close Look at the Distribution of Change


As pointed out in the preceding chapter utilizing Kaizen to its fullest encompasses more than a single-minded process. Effectively using Kaizen calls
for a series of established activities that have different purposes and lead to
different results, all of which are aimed at fully and effectively inserting Lean
Manufacturing. Figure2.1 is a pie chart that outlines the typical distribution
of accomplishments under a well-structured strategy for Lean, whether such
activities are formally recognized as such or not.
Approximately 60% of the accomplishments will come from properly
training the workforce and providing them a means to directly assist in
making change in the factory, along with an effective use of a companys
production engineering resource. Most manufacturing operations striving to
implement Lean utilize both, from one extent to another. However, assuming
the best from each area of application, this still leaves approximately 40% of
the task that seldom receives proper attention.
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

Addressing Key Roles and Supporting Tactics 37


Approximate Distribution of Lean Implementation
Accomplishments

40%
Training &
Implementation
Kaizen

20%
Production
Engineering
Work

5%
5%
15%
High-Impact
Kaizen

15%
Sustaining
Kaizen

Problem
Resolution
Kaizen
Discretionary
Management
Projects

Note: Under normal circumstances most work associated with fully implementing
Lean will come from good production engineering practices, along with training the
workforce and allowing them to directly participate in making change on the shop
floor. However, unless Kaizen is used to its fullestto include High Impact, Problem
Resolution and Sustaining activity, along with various discretionary management
projects aimed at enhancing the processLean Manufacturing will typically never
be fully and successfully inserted.

Figure 2.1 Pie chart: Distribution of Lean accomplishments.

Unless Kaizen is used to its fullest, to include proper attention on highimpact, sustaining, and problem resolution Kaizen, along with various
discretionary management initiatives aimed at enhancing the process, it
is highly unlikely that Lean Manufacturing will ever be fully and successfully implemented.
Although the precise percentage in the distribution outlined will vary
depending on numerous factors, what is shown closely approximates where
the typical implementation of improvements can be expected. This serves to
point to the fact that without a well-prepared strategy a company is missing
the opportunity to make Kaizen a formidable competitive weapon.
The matter of appropriately utilizing production engineering cannot be
overemphasized. Most companies simply havent given enough attention to
the role this particular resource should play in the overall implementation of
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

38 Progressive Kaizen

Lean. This subject is addressed in greater detail in Chapters 2 and 3, but the
following points are extremely important, with respect to the role and commitment of a plants production engineering (PE) staff:
Each and every production engineer should have extensive training in
Lean Manufacturing and should hold written objectives that serve to
promote his direct involvement in the process.
The production engineering manager should have a strong working
relationship with the Lean Manufacturing coordinator and partner in
bringing about the kind of change needed.
The PE function should hold special objectives and conduct special
activities aimed at incorporating Lean Manufacturing throughout the
factory, in keeping with an established, management-approved implementation plan. Included in this is holding the chief responsibility of
engineering a plants key production equipment to more effectively
support Lean. For more specific detail with regard this particular task,
see Lean Manufacturing; Implementation Strategies That Work.
___________________________
Kaizen simply cannot be carried out to its fullest without a number of
key positions playing a highly active role and without the formulation of
tactics that serve to promote and drive the process forward. This starts with
the plant manager.

Plant Managers Role in Lean


It cannot be stressed strongly enough how important it is for the plant
manager to be (or become) a strong proponent of Lean. Having personally
worked and consulted with numerous factories across the United States and
around the world, I can say that out of that total less than half of the plant
managers involved expressed a seriously strong interest in making Lean a
full reality. What is meant by a full reality is a clearly obvious sense of
urgency in taking Lean to its ultimate level of achievement. It was clear
some of them saw Lean as just another company initiative, among many that
had come and gone over the years. In turn, they only did what was necessary to show a reasonable level of compliance. Others held extremely strong
opposition to any change to the status quo and what was in keeping with
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

Addressing Key Roles and Supporting Tactics 39

the education and hands-on experience that had brought them to their current status.
But in fairness, plant managers typically arent given the freedom to
ignore standard performance measurements that serve to support this frame
of mind. The active implementation of Lean Manufacturing doesnt come
without a cost and, unfortunately, typical performance measurements often
guide in an opposing direction. Therefore, unless a special fund is established for the effort, which is seldom the case, Lean and Kaizen will carry
little weight in the overall scheme of doing business. That is precisely why
so much effort has been put into striving to cost-justify changes made in
support of Lean.
But any plant manager who believes his direct participation in the evolution to Lean essentially ends when hes hired a Lean coordinator and gone as
far as communicating the importance to the workforce, is ill advised regarding the role a plant manager must play in the process. No less attention can
be given to the implementation of Lean than any other important aspect of
the business, and in most cases, a great deal more personal time and attention is required for Lean than other common initiatives and undertakings.
I can personally testify that the job of a plant manager can be a very
time-consuming task, burdened with a wide variety of day-to-day issues,
involving everything from public relations issues to operating costs, throughput, and satisfactorily meeting customer demand. If done right its a tough
assignment and one that deserves little criticism. On the other hand, one of
the best ways to eliminate many of the distractions inherent to the job is for
the plant manager to focus on seeing that a world-class production system
is fully instated in the factory he is responsible for managing. Sometimes
in doing so, he has to assume a damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead
mentality. But for every plant manager who is comfortable assuming such a
position, there are many others who simply wont take the risk. In the case
of the latter, there has to be someone at a higher level who instigates and
perpetuates the process or it likely will never come to fruition.
RELATED EXPERIENCE: We were heavily into making Lean-oriented
change in a factory I was managing, when I was called on the carpet
about expenses. It was pointed out that over the course of eight months
I was $17,000 overbudget in training expenses. I explained that we simply hadnt budgeted enough for the aggressive workforce training we

2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

40 Progressive Kaizen

were conducting (although we didnt formally called the process Lean


at the time). However, I went on to note that the return we were experiencingin a reduction of work-in-process inventory and scrap and
rework, along with substantial productivity improvementsmore than
justified the added training expense.
The comptroller in attendance quickly challenged my response, noting that although training expenditures were absolutely clear to everyone, fully contributing the cost improvements made to the efforts I was
speaking to was a seriously gray issue. What he was saying, in other
words, was: Prove it!
I strived to do that, but continued to receive a tremendous amount
of pressure on a monthly basis regarding being overbudget in training expense. That was until the president of the company happened
to make an unexpected visit and tour of the factory. He went on to
rave about the highly apparent changes that had been made since his
last visit and his extreme pleasure in seeing it happen. Afterwards, I
was never questioned again regarding the cost of the training expense
involved.
The reason for relating that experience is to point out that regardless of
proof, one should not expect every high-level official in a company to share
a full understanding and appreciation for Lean or for the depth of accomplishment it is capable of achieving. There will be doubters and there will
be surprise challenges along the way that the person pushing a Lean initiative will find frustrating and must be capable of addressing. Even under the
best of circumstances, a willingness to extend ones self beyond a totally
risk-free and comfortable position is almost assuredly required. Thus there
is all the more reason for some appropriate planning and forethought before
venturing into the effort.
Facing and accepting the need for a complete change to the existing
system of production is usually the most difficult step to take. Unfortunately,
there are plant managers who havent fully brought themselves to this point.
The lack of adequate senior leadership support for Lean varies greatly and
is seeded with highly varying circumstances; but can be summed up in two
basic categories.
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

Addressing Key Roles and Supporting Tactics 41

The first category are the plant managers who give cursory support
to the process, but play a highly inactive role in overall implementation.
This type of plant managers are not personally involved in setting and
directing plans and objectives for Lean, more or less leaving the depth
of penetration up to the Lean coordinator and others. Although this category of plant managers dont typically create roadblocks, they do not go
out of their way to strongly encourage Lean Manufacturing and the use
of Kaizen in getting there. To them it is viewed as only one of any number of ways to enhance an operation, but something that isnt absolutely
essential to the plants overall success, or in other words, something they
can take or leave.
The second category are the plant managers who makes it obvious that
Lean Manufacturing takes a backseat to numerous other priorities, namely
meeting scheduled forecasts and established production schedules, even
if that schedule is aimed at building inventory that doesnt immediately
satisfy customer needs and tends to create wastes that make the operation
less than totally competitive. This category of plant managers will tend
to work at delaying any real change to the status quo and the method of
production they have worked with for years. Most often they have had
Lean thrust upon them without their full agreement, perhaps as a result of
a corporate-driven initiative, and will only do what is necessary to avoid
being seen as defiant.
Most plant managers, however, are open-minded and willing to make
change that serves to improve their operations. But something I can say
with absolute certainty is that Lean is essentially doomed from the start if
the plant manager is bound hard and fast to the practices of old and incapable of seeing the need for change and actively supporting it. Regardless
of the measure of commitment taken, however, there are 10 actions that
can be outlined as being characteristic of solidly Lean-oriented plant managers. While others could, of course, apply, the following highlight some of
the more important.

Characteristics of Lean-Oriented Plant Managers


1. Play a highly active role in both establishing and following up on
goals and objectives outlined for Lean Manufacturing, and Kaizen
activity, in particular.
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

42 Progressive Kaizen

2. Make certain that all department managers and production supervisors


carry written objectives that serve to enhance the full plantwide incorporation of Lean Manufacturing.
3. Ensure there is constant reinforcement in the form of written and verbal communications that point out results and the benefits achieved,
along with the support the workforce should provide in making Lean
Manufacturing a full and absolute success.
4. Ensure a formal budget for Kaizen is prepared, approved, and fully
understood by all direct reports and that this is further reviewed with
and understood by each of the staffs subordinates.
5. Attend the opening and closing of all Kaizen events, making positive
comments about the process, extending congratulations, and, where
appropriate, praise to participants for the results achieved. In the case
of being absent from the factory or for an understandable inability to
attend, the plant managers take the time to prepare a set of videos that
can be used for the opening and closing sessions of each event.
6. Conduct regular tours of the factory with a number of the staff, for the
expressed purpose of reviewing progress, auditing stated results, and
making notes to share with the Lean coordinator regarding noticeable
problem areas and where further opportunities for improvement potentially exist.
7. Make personal visits to the factory floor to speak directly with production employees and others about opportunities for change and about
Lean Manufacturing in general, always taking the opportunity to note
the need for everyone to actively support the process.
8. Express knowledge about the principles and techniques of Lean by
directly questioning operators, production supervisors, and others when it
becomes apparent that slippage has occurred to changes made. In absolutely no case would the plant managers knowingly walk by an obvious
slippage in implementation without stopping to address the issue.
9. Hold at least one formal staff meeting a month centering on Lean
Manufacturing; constructed to review measurements on progress, how
training is going, all future plans and activities aimed at advancing
Lean, and what can be done further at a management level to enhance
the process.
10. Make certain that the Lean coordinator is a direct report and take the
time to sit down at least once every week with the coordinator to discuss
overall progress, any issues that might distract from getting the job done,
and any opportunities that would serve to further advance the process.
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

Addressing Key Roles and Supporting Tactics 43

The role of plant managers wishing to ensure a highly successful and


productive Lean Manufacturing effort includes being both directly involved
in associated planning activities and instrumental in creating a high level
of enthusiasm among the workforce. This isnt to say that other company
initiatives are not important, only that the majority of them are not quite as
important as making a full and effective change to the system of production.
In most cases Lean Manufacturing and the adequate utilization of Kaizen to
get there should reign as the supreme objective and the plant manager is key
to establishing and maintaining this way of thinking throughout the ranks.
In addition to the actions noted, there are some supportive organizational
changes that the plant manager should strongly consider implementing. The
following addresses two of the most important needed in support of Lean.

Lean Coordinator
One of most vital organizational issues required for a viable, energetic, and
results-oriented Lean effort is to make the person selected as the Lean coordinator a staff-level employee, reporting directly to the plant manager. This
means the Lean coordinator would be on par organizationally with the likes
of the quality assurance manager, the materials manager, and others. This
isnt always an easy thing to accomplish, inasmuch as Lean coordination
isnt typically viewed as a high-level management position. This is because
the individual usually heads up a very small staff of personnel (one to two,
at best) and holds no special obligation to day-to-day production activities.
The coordinator therefore carries no direct control over a sizable portion of
the money required to run the factory, something most organizations take
into consideration in setting staff-level positions. But old-fashioned thinking
frankly has to change if Lean is expected to be accomplished in an aggressive and meaningful manner.
One manner of influencing the overall assigned responsibility and thusly
the dollars controlled is to have the maintenance function report directly
to the Lean coordinator. If the plant manager doesnt have the assigned
authority to make such organizational change on his own, there are ways to
approach getting there. One of them is to have an existing member of the
staff assume oversight responsibility for Lean, along with his existing duties.
This takes an enthusiastic staff manager who is well versed in Lean, who
sees the benefits of the process and is willing to take on added responsibility. In such a case, the Lean coordinator would report directly to the selected
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

44 Progressive Kaizen

staff manager and preferably dotted-line to the plant manager. As time goes
by and change is made across the factoryimproving the plants ability
to drastically lower inventory levels, reduce lead-times, and better service
customersit becomes easier to sway thinking into making the Lean coordinator a full-time staff member.
The fact is that a good Kaizen effort will normally outweigh the impact
on the bottom line for which most staff positions have responsibility. One
of the best examples for comparison is the purchasing manager position,
which carries the responsibility to save multiple thousands of dollars each
year through price negotiations. A good Lean Manufacturing/Kaizen coordinator can also save multiple thousands of dollars that are reflected in profit
improvement for years on end thereafter.

Maintenance Manager
As mentioned, another important organizational change is to have the
head of the plants maintenance department report directly to the Lean
coordinator. The principal reason for this is that good maintenance support is a critical component of any viable Lean Manufacturing initiative
and is in fact vital to a strong results-oriented Kaizen effort. Having the
head of maintenance report to the Lean coordinator takes any arguments
and delays out of the equation. A further reason is that it takes maintenance projects that could be seen as highly important, but do nothing
in support of Lean, and provides a strong voice in redirecting priorities.
Taking this step means the Lean coordinator would preferably have some
experience in maintenance or be capable of quickly learning the ropes.
Should this not be the case, the plant manager has to decide how to
overcome this particular shortcoming and make the organizational change
at some point down the road. Regardless, it is an organization alignment
thats needed and the sooner its fully accomplished, the better a plant
will be served.

F Alliance
In order to reach the active core of Lean implementation and gain the
full benefits the plant manager (along with the Lean coordinator) should
strive to adopt the F Alliance noted in Figure2.2. Ideally, the plant
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

Addressing Key Roles and Supporting Tactics 45

Focus

Finish

Lean Core

In order to penetrate
to the core of Lean
implementation and gain
the maximum benefits,
the leader must have
Focus on the mission,
Faith in the process, the
Fortitude to fight
opposition, and be
dedicated to see it through
to a full & effective
Finish
Faith

Fortitude

Figure 2.2 The F Alliance.

manager and Lean coordinator would be Focused on bringing about the


kind of change needed to fully incorporate the principles of Lean across
the entire factory. They would further have the Fortitude to make certain
the process didnt stray off course, and would hold a strong Faith in the
merits and value of the process. Last, but far from least, they would energetically strive to see it through to a complete and thorough Finish. Can
a Lean initiative succeed without this level of conviction and involvement
from the plant manager, in particular? Perhaps, but not close to the speed
and effectiveness it can with a plant manager who adopts and expresses
the values noted.

Lean-Oriented Company President


In most cases, a good Lean Manufacturing initiative will never get off to a
start unless the company president sees a value in pursuing it and provides
the initial push to get the process underway. I was fortunate to have worked
for a highly Lean-oriented CEO, who I made note of in a recent book, Lean
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

46 Progressive Kaizen

Manufacturing; Implementation Strategies That Work. But in addressing the


topic of the company presidents role in Lean Manufacturing its good to go
a bit further into the specific actions George David, the CEO and president
of United Technologies, took in successfully spreading the process across the
entire corporation.
At the time, UTC consisted of six divisions with over 30,000 employees
worldwide. All but one was a first in its industry and held such highly recognizable names as Carrier Air Conditioning, Pratt & Whitney, Otis Elevator,
and Sikorski Helicopter. Mr. David became interested in learning more about
the Toyota Production System and invited a group of ex-Toyota managers
who had started their own consulting business for a visit to his office in
Hartford, Connecticut. He subsequently went about employing the firm to
provide a series of Kaizen training and demonstrations at various factories
within UTC and came to see the importance of spreading Toyotas system of
production throughout the entire enterprise.
Mr. David didnt hand the ultimate responsibility off to the next level and
go about business as usual. He played an extremely active role in shaping an
extensive plan of action and making certain the message was loud and clear
regarding expectations; going as far as demanding that 1,500 top-level managers throughout the corporation receive hands-on training in the process.
This meant taking time away from highly important jobs for a solid two
weeks, in order to become an active participant in one of a series of special
Kaizen events held at participating factories. It wasnt just an unusual commitment; it was a first of its kind and clearly demonstrated the importance,
along with Davids full intention of adapting Toyotas system of production
to the highest degree possible in each and every factory within the realm of
United Technologies.
I was asked to work in helping to develop a training manual for the
venture and went on to spend four years traveling the world, conducting
two-week Kaizen events for UTC manufacturing operations in the United
States, the Far East, Europe, and South America. I can therefore testify to the
magnitude of change made and the outstanding results achieved in plant
inventory reduction, improved throughput, manufacturing lead-time, and the
elimination of scrap and rework, among many other notable accomplishments. Such an achievement would simply not have been possible without
the strong influence and personal commitment George David made, who
later went on to be named one of Americas leading CEOs.
Although it would be foolish to expect every company president or CEO
to approach the matter with the same level of zeal George David displayed, I
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

Addressing Key Roles and Supporting Tactics 47

sincerely believe there has to be a renewed enthusiasm for the kind of change
needed at the very highest level. Otherwise, Americas future in manufacturing
could seriously be at stake. In noting some of the important characteristics of a
Lean-oriented company president, a few thoughts pertaining to the role follow.
The Lean-oriented company president would:
Show an expressed personal enthusiasm for the process and the need
for the company to follow the principles and procedures inherent to
Lean, not only on the production floor but in all facets of work within
the organization.
Issue a directive that the company develop its own Lean Manufacturing
training manual and that all manufacturing sites adopt and follow the
basic outline prescribed.
Make a personal commitment to visit as many factories as possible
within the company, after a specified period of time, to review progress.
Initiate an annual Presidents Award or something similar for the
site that does the most effective job of implementation. In the case
of smaller operations where the company president is located onsite, the award would go to the department that did the most effective job.
Fully incorporating Lean Manufacturing at an individual factory level and
throughout a company as a whole requires the direct support and involvement from executive leadership, in order to ensure the process remains
active and doesnt falter. Most companies and corporations that are sincere
about Lean have a means in place to audit progress. But its been my experience that many of these are aimed at rating one factory against another,
rather than ensuring progress remains on track against a clearly prescribed
implementation objective for the entire company.
The most important task for executive management as it applies to Lean
is to establish a reasonable timeframe for full implementation and follow-up
to see that it is carried out to the fullest. This will not be accomplished by
making progress (or the lack thereof) some sort of contest, aimed at recognizing those who have done the most, inasmuch as being the absolute best
in a given company can often fall far short of where the overall enterprise as
a whole should set its sights. Instead, the executive directive and subsequent
follow-up should be aimed at eliminating excuses and making certain that
each and every factory involved makes solid irreversible progress toward full
implementation. Anything less will simply not take the U.S. manufacturing
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

48 Progressive Kaizen

sector far enough or fast enough to meet ever-growing competition, intent


on establishing manufacturing superiority.
If that statement sounds a little strong, believe me it isnt. Manufacturing
in the United States has already slipped significantly and the result over the
past two decades has been the loss of countless jobs and the closure of
thousands of factories. It is a very serious and sobering issue and one we
wont overcome if we falter in the effort. At the core of that needed commitment is the strong support and the continuing encouragement of senior
management in getting the job done.

Shop Floor Supervisors Role in Kaizen


The shop floor supervisor holds a distinctive and important role in making
Kaizen a formidable competitive weapon. In meeting the obligations of that
role, he has to carry appropriate knowledge of the process and be active in
its application. This means holding very specific goals and objectives, aimed
at nurturing the process, such as having a certain percentage of his subordinates qualified as participants in the companys Waste Reduction Activity
Process (WRAP), the key aspects of which are explained in an upcoming
section of this chapter.
Being highly supportive also means going out of his way to ensure
employees have the help they need in carrying out change for the better
in their jobs, such as acquiring needed maintenance or engineering help in
order to fully implement an idea an employee has in the advancement of
Lean practices. Some of the more important aspects of Lean-oriented shop
floor supervisors are:
1. They have gone through official orientation training on the specific
requirements for the role and the responsibilities they hold in advancing
Kaizen-related activity in their area of authority.
2. They practice encouragement of the process to subordinates and follow
up to see that progress is being made throughout their area of shop
floor responsibility.
3. They refuse to take no for an answer when it comes to the help
needed from other functions such as maintenance and production engineering; and when necessary go to their respective bosses to solicit aid
in getting the attention and support of others.
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

Addressing Key Roles and Supporting Tactics 49

4. They consistently express enthusiasm for the process and push hard to
make a complete change to their area of responsibility.
5. They have formal written objectives for Kaizen that carry a high weight
factor for both performance evaluation and annual compensation.
With regard to the last item mentioned, an example of appropriate
weighting is shown in Figure2.3. The total of all the established objectives and their assigned weight factor should add up to 100%, 40% of
which are Lean Manufacturing and Kaizen-related objectives. Why 40%?
No specific reason, other than its a large enough weight factor to grab
ones attention and help to ensure a decent focus is maintained. Would
something less than 40% be acceptable? Perhaps, but it definitely needs to
carry enough weighted influence to ensure key players in the process give
it the proper attention.
This should not lead one to believe that the purpose of applying a
set of reasonably heavily weighted objectives, aimed at advancing Lean
Manufacturing and the use of Kaizen, is to insinuate they are more important than other aspects of the business. All the categories typically noted
in someones management by objectives (MBOs) are important. But until a
factory has made significant progress in fully changing its system of production, Lean Manufacturing and Kaizen objectives should carry an exceptional
level of importance.
On the other hand, heavily weighting Lean and Kaizen objectives will
not result in an individuals ability to successfully achieve them unless
there is a good deal of understanding about the process and some extensive training. This is one of the reasons shop floor supervisors have to be
some of the first and the best-trained individuals in a factory. How to go
about this is covered in Chapter 4, under the heading Training First-Line
Supervisors. But in order to expound upon the importance of orienting shop floor supervisors to the task, its noteworthy to relate a personal
experience.
RELATED EXPERIENCE: In 2004, I was working with a company that had
a formal MBO program that was used in assessing and rewarding performance. Under such a program an individuals annual merit increase is
largely dependent on how well he or she goes about meeting written and
approved objectives.

2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

50 Progressive Kaizen

Example of Appropriately
Weighted Objectives

Total Number of
Assigned Individual
Objectives = 10
Lean Manufacturing
and Kaizen related
objectives = 3

Assigned
weight
factor = 40%

Product quality
related
objectives = 2

Total weight
factor = 30%

Schedule reliability
and customer
satisfaction
objectives = 3

Budget and forecast


related
objectives = 2

Total weight
factor = 20%

Total weight
factor = 10%

The shop floor supervisors


individual objectives for Lean
implementation would be the most
heavily weighted of all the
objectives outlined for
performance evaluation

Figure 2.3 Example of appropriately weighted objectives.

2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

Addressing Key Roles and Supporting Tactics 51

After an initial audit of the factorys Lean Manufacturing process, I


discovered that no manager or supervisor other than the assigned Lean
coordinator carried any established objectives related to Lean. None!
Upon questioning the plant manager, he informed me he had a bit of
a problem in revising objectives because they had already been established for the year. He went on to say it would be the following year
(some nine months down the road) before anything could be done. I
left it at that for the time and went on to conduct a Kaizen session; even
though it was apparent the production supervisors involved werent that
enthusiastic about the process and seemed to have their minds elsewhere. In my closing report I suggested to the plant manager that he do
all within his power to see if MBOs couldnt be revised for some key
individuals involved, to include at least some personal objectives aimed
at enhancing the progression of Lean.
In a follow-up phone conversation some four months later, he informed
me hed gone about addressing the subject with his boss and had been
able to get an agreement to revise formal objectives for a number of his
people. He went on to add, perhaps not so surprisingly, that doing so
definitely made a difference and that more had been accomplished since
realigning objectives than had happened from the time Lean had been
started in the factory. A couple of other interesting things he related were:
He only had one supervisor who couldnt handle the responsibility and he ended up assigning the individual a different role
where his expertise could best be utilized.
The feedback he was getting from the shop floor was that the
majority of employees were enjoying the changes being made
and that union grievances were down overall.
Individual accomplishments to a very large degree turn out to be the
things people feel are viewed as important by their direct leadership (i.e.,
their boss), in other words, the things they clearly understand as being fully
expected of them. One of the most critical steps in directing the course
of a Lean Manufacturing initiative is aligning clearly established objectives
that serve to support the effort and leave absolutely no doubt regarding
the expectations of management and the obligations an individual holds to
those expectations.
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

52 Progressive Kaizen

Special Consideration of Owner-Operators


It is good to remember that Toyota didnt reach the status it holds in manufacturing excellence by making Kaizen a solely management run and operated
process. It drove the mind-set and thinking down to the employee level and
provided them the opportunity to make change for the better on their own.
We have to do no less if we hope to make manufacturing what it needs
to be and successfully compete in todays extremely challenging environment. Unfortunately, there is far too little of this type of thinking in manufacturing and the only way were going to change it is to do something
different than is commonly practiced with Kaizen. But in addition, a company has to take a hard look at established labor classifications and make
supportive adjustments.
Labor classifications can be a sore subject, inasmuch as it is often felt
these are designed by the union to help the worker and not the company.
To the average supervisor they stand in the way of effectively using the
production workforce, as needed, in order to meet customer demand. I contend labor classifications are important and that the only reason a company
has far too many classifications is because someone in management took
the most convenient way out and allowed it to happen. I therefore find it
hard to sympathize with a company who complains labor classifications are
grown completely out of control. The answer is actually simple, although
the task itself may not be. The answer is to sit down with the union and do
something about it, the sooner the better! It wont always be easy, but it can
be truly worthwhile.
I had a very high-level manager tell me he felt there should only be one
labor classification and it should be called worker, the idea being that
any production employee could be used as needed. I pointed out to him
although that would be nice with respect to making his job easier it wasnt
necessarily the best way to go. He seemed a little startled at the statement
and asked what I was trying to imply. My response essentially boiled down
to this. If done properly, established labor classifications can be as much of
an advantage as a disadvantage. The issue is clearly understanding where
theres a need for a special classification and what elevates the responsibility
beyond normal production work.
Far too often companies have given in a bit too easily to establishing a
new classification for work that required no real training and where there
was nothing particularly significant about the added responsibilities the operator was asked to assume. As a ground rule, there should be no added labor
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

Addressing Key Roles and Supporting Tactics 53

classification for something that doesnt require uniquely special skills and
an expressed ability to pass a written exam or an on-the-job test of ability.
Although a certain level of growth in experience could merit an increase in
base pay, it in no way justifies a new labor classification. Its just that simple.
A very worthwhile consideration a company can make regarding classifications is the insertion of one known as owner-operator. Becoming an
owner-operator involves special training, which comes in the form of both
problem resolution and sustaining Kaizen. The official qualification involves
a period of basically uninterrupted classroom training, however, in order to
ensure production requirements are met while training is being conducted,
participants are given the first and last hour of the day to make certain that
those serving as a replacement have the benefit of their input and guidance.
The classroom time for the three-day event is six hours a day. If a production issue arises, the supervisor has to essentially consider the participant
absent from work for the period of time spent in class each day and strive to
deal with the matter on his own.
In addition to the formal training given, once a year all fully vested
owner-operators are required to take a six-hour refresher course. But an
investment in owner-operators doesnt come without a cost. The work of
the owner-operators requires a higher pay scale and special training, but
can provide a very noteworthy payback. The return on investment comes
in terms of greatly reducing the chance of machine breakdowns and successfully eliminating scrap and rework, along with the elimination of other
wastes and inefficiencies common to the job. As pointed out later, a factory
that doesnt aspire to owner-operators, or some similar classification, simply
isnt getting the most out of Kaizen and potentially never will.
The specifics regarding this can be found in Chapter 4, under the heading
Training First-Line Supervisors, where the potential elevation of the position to Lean Equipment Specialist and the benefits involved are additionally discussed.

Value of Inserting a WRAP Initiative


A standard Kaizen event involves a select group of participants taking time
away from their day-to-day jobs and working as a well-supervised team,
under the direction of a qualified instructor. A waste reduction activity
process (WRAP) takes Kaizen a step further by providing a means and an
award for employees that apply Kaizen to their individual jobs.
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

54 Progressive Kaizen

WRAP encourages and reinforces the use of Kaizen with an incentive that
pays a bonus for proven audited results. Taken to the ultimate would include
constructive disciplinary action, when participants fail to respond in applying Kaizen to their job after appropriate training. The choice to take it to the
ultimate is entirely up to the factory involved, but there are some distinct
advantages in doing so that are addressed later in this section.
The term WRAP serves the process well, identifying it as a waste
reduction process that essentially wraps Kaizen in a structure of strong
encouragement, a high degree of employee participation, and award when
achievements are successfully carried out. However, there are certain things
that must be in place before undertaking a WRAP initiative. These include:





1. A highly supportive and dedicated management team


2. A willingness to pay a bonus for job improvements
3. A well-trained and enthusiastic group of shop floor supervisors
4. A highly knowledgeable Lean coordinator
5. A fully supportive human resource and accounting function
6. Cooperative union leadership (should one exist)

The goal of WRAP is to drive continuous improvement down to an


employee level. The idea is to create a mind-set that waste reduction is an
expected part of the job. For those who either cannot or will not comply
after appropriate training, disciplinary action is taken. Such action should be
aimed at striving to bring the employee along rather than rewarding failure
with criticism and harsh measures. A positive approach would include additional training and direction as needed. But again, taking a WRAP initiative
to this level requires floor supervisors and department managers who are
well versed in their roles and responsibility to the process.
In the vast majority of cases, going as far as terminating an employee
will not occur; although it can indeed happen if a company is truly serious
about the process. In most cases what is being asked of an employee, after
appropriate training, should be well within his means to accomplish. But in
order for such a process to work, the single most important factor rests with
well-trained shop floor supervisors or in the case of salaried employees, the
respective department manager.
Managers and supervisors have to be trained and motivated to respond in
obtaining the help employees need to carry out suggested ideas for improvement. For shop floor employees this usually centers on the direct participation of the plants maintenance and production engineering functions. For
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

Addressing Key Roles and Supporting Tactics 55

salaried employees, it principally often boils down to the manager working with other department managers in bringing about change that reduces
redundancy, paperwork, and other related wastes. But in both cases, employees are encouraged to make as much of the change as possible on their own.
If a labor union exists, expanding job expectations to this level can sometimes create a sizable hurdle. The bargaining chip is the matter of added remuneration, along with the fact that the company would not be asking employees
to do more, without rewarding them accordingly. On the other hand, after
appropriate training, the company should expect results and if an employee
expresses an inability or unwillingness to participate, the company should have
every right to take action, which could include as a last resort, termination.
Far too often training is given to employees and little to nothing is
achieved other than the ability to say training was indeed conducted. I
once had a discussion with a production manager who spent a considerable amount of time showing me all the various training his workers had
received. The truth was I felt that little of the training was in line with what
employees should be receiving and went on to ask if he thought his workforce was better than the average production worker found elsewhere. He
pondered the question a moment before responding, To be truthful, I cant
really say for sure. But I think theyre among the best.
As the conversation proceeded, I was able to learn his turnover rate was
relatively high, which forced me to question if it was due to their moving on
to better and higher-paying jobs or because of other factors. This spurred
his interest and what we collectively came to discover was that the feedback
typically given human resources in exit interviews, almost always boiled
down to job-related dissatisfaction.
As we learned more, it became a prime example of a company spending
money, time, and effort on training that essentially resulted in little to nothing in
return. But again, even with the best training, floor supervisors and department
managers have to play a highly supportive role in a WRAP process. In order to
make WRAP work correctly, the role of department managers and area supervisors has to change from being highly directional in nature to becoming much
more motivational and supportive of employees. This isnt something that can or
will happen overnight and will take time. But if approached in the right manner
a change in role responsibility can indeed take place.
The bonus paid for waste reduction activity at an individual employee
level should be something meaningful. It doesnt always have to be purely
monetary and can involve such things as earned time off and the like.
However, bonuses should be individualized as much as possible. The idea
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

56 Progressive Kaizen

is to reward personal involvement and results. Precisely what amounts to


a change that earns a bonus has to be at the discretion of the company
involved. A reminder, however, is not all good improvements end up immediately saving the company money. Some ideas will serve to enhance the
overall progress of changing the existing system of production and should
not be overlooked as a successful accomplishment.
It is sometimes helpful to consider a flat bonus for qualified improvements ($50 to $100, for example) rather than striving to apply a complicated
formula based on a number of extensive reporting parameters. Keeping it
simple and straightforward, by taking any complicated formulas out of the
equation, is one of the keys to making a WRAP initiative work to both the
companys and the employees advantage.
One very positive aspect of the term waste reduction activity is that
it clearly points out the scope and purpose of the work involved. It isnt
something to make someones job easier, although it may indeed do that. It
isnt work to make someone feel better, although that may also happen. It
is work designed to make the company less wasteful and just a little better
today than it was yesterday.
In Chapter 4 more is provided regarding the mechanics of setting up
WRAP under Implementing a WRAP Initiative, along with the appropriate planning and follow-through required in order to make it a success.
However, it goes without being said that an entirely different mind-set is
warranted, along with a focus that hasnt commonly been placed on job
performance at an individual employee level. Can a company implement
an advanced application of Kaizen as outlined without a WRAP initiative? It
probably can. But it will not gain the substantial benefits of making Kaizen a
daily activity and fully accomplish the value of continuous improvement at
an individual job level.

Tactics for Getting the Best Results Out of Kaizen


The tactics involved in advancing Lean and getting the best results from
Kaizen start with a plan regarding how to go about the task. Figure2.4
outlines a series of progressive steps to establish a firm foundation for Lean
implementation most effectively. Charts 2.1 through 2.3 outline the steps
involved in more detail and provide an implementation timeframe for each
phase of the process, under what could be considered a relatively aggressive
application of Lean.
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

Addressing Key Roles and Supporting Tactics 57

Lean Implementation Step


Chart

Step Ten: Begin


Kaizen related
vendor certification

Step Nine: Began


actively applying
Kaizen in office arena

Step Eleven:
Completely
re-layout
factory

Step Twelve: Use


sustaining and
problem resolution
Kaizen to drive con't.
improvements

Foundation for Lean ImplementationPhase Three

Foundation
connection
Step Five: Apply
Kanban to
production
monuments

Step Six: Start


moving select
equipment to point
of use

Step Seven: Select


and fully train
owner-operators
on key production
equipment

Step Eight:
Implement a WRAP
initiative

Foundation for Lean ImplementationPhase Two

Foundation
connection
Step One: Properly
engineer key
production
equipment

Step Two: Hold first


high-impact Kaizen
event

Step Three: Realign


organizational
structure & key
individual objectives

Step Four: Begin


actively utilizing
training and
implementation and
problem resolution
Kaizen

Foundation for Lean ImplementationPhase One

Figure 2.4 Lean implementation step chart.

How to Use the Step Charts


For those just starting a Lean initiative the steps noted could be followed
precisely as outlined. But because many factories already have a Lean initiative underway, the starting point would then be different. Assume theres a
factory that has been into Lean for a year or so. Some notable changes have
been made, but have been slow in coming and rather sparse in application.
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

58 Progressive Kaizen

Chart 2.1 Step Chart Phase 1: Lay the Groundwork to Change the Factorys
Production Technique (Timeframe: 8 to 10 months)
Step #1: Assign production engineering with the task of bringing a plants key
production equipment up to good Lean Manufacturing standards (see Lean
Manufacturing; Implementation Strategies That Work for more detail on this step).
Step #2: Hold the plants first High-Impact Kaizen session. The intended purpose
should be to establish an area showcasing both the extent and type of change that
will be conducted plantwide.
Step #3: Realign organizational structure as needed and see that written objectives
for key players are established. This would include assigning a full-time Lean
coordinator and adjusting the individual MBOs of key players in order to support
the active and ongoing implementation of Lean Manufacturing.
Step #4: Begin actively utilizing training and implementation and problem
resolution Kaizen to train the workforce and make change in keeping with good
Lean Manufacturing principles.
Special Note: The aim should be to see that each production area is exposed to at least
one TI Kaizen session and that at least one active pull zone is implemented in
each assigned area of the factory. Assigned area is defined as an established
production department, such as the welding area, press shop, wiring subassembly, and so on. The user pulling from the zone would be the next assigned area
in the chain of activities required to produce a finished product.

Chart 2.2 Step Chart Phase 2: Change Flow to Best Accommodate Lean and Pull
Production (Timeframe: 6 to 8 months)
Step #5: Finalize the engineering of key production equipment and apply Kanban to
production areas considered monuments, such as a large paint line, coating
process, and the like.
Step #6: Start moving a select amount of production equipment to point-of-use and
allowing operators and others to learn from the change.
Step #7: Select and fully train owner-operators on all key production equipment.
Step #8. Implement a formal Waste Reduction Activity Process and associated Lean
Manufacturing incentive program.

Some machines have had Poka-Yoke and SMED applied and Kanban has
been established at various locations in the factory. However, there is clearly
room for improvement. The steps outlined can still be used. As an example,
the plant could decide to start at Step #1 inasmuch as this has not been
accomplished. However, because Lean isnt new to the factory, a decision
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

Addressing Key Roles and Supporting Tactics 59

Chart 2.3 Step Chart Phase 3: Fully Implement Lean Manufacturing Throughout
(Timeframe: 9 to 12 months)
Step #9: Actively drive Kaizen into the office functions.
Step #10: Build supportive Kaizen-related change into vendor certification.
Step #11: Completely lay out the factory anew. Plan and progressively make the
entire new layout principally over weekends or during established periods of
shutdown for vacations, and the like.
Special Note: Fully incorporating the new layout should result in gaining space in
the factory that can be used for purposes of adding new business in the future,
along with the necessary production equipment required.
Step #12: Use sustaining and problem resolution Kaizen to further continuous
improvement.

could be made to skip Step #2 and proceed to Step #3. The point is to use
the charts to stay a proper course and make certain that key elements of
the process are not overlooked. The important thing is to guard against
changing the sequence of the steps involved. There is good reasoning and
experience behind them and care should be taken before rearranging the
sequence of activities outlined.
With regard to the phased timeframes noted, following the steps precisely
as outlined would normally take a factory of any size somewhere between
24 to 30 months (roughly 2 to 2 years) to completely and thoroughly
implement. But compared to the typical progress made with Lean, a start to
finish of 24 months is a gross improvement.
_________________________________________________
This chapter has served to point out that all Kaizen activity is not the same and
should not be looked upon and approached as such. It further indicated the
ideal characteristics of the highest levels of management, along with the roles a
number of other key players should undertake and went on to cover the principal benefits associated with implementing a waste reduction activity process.
In order to make Kaizen all it can be, the general thinking within an
organization has to change, it has to be adequately supported from a management standpoint, and it has to incorporate methods beyond performing
the sheer mechanics of Kaizen. One might ask if you dont have the kind
of management characteristics outlined, is a good Kaizen effort essentially
doomed? The answer to that is not entirely, although it does require someone of influence who expends an effort to preach the right message and
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

60 Progressive Kaizen

who works hard at getting senior managements support for a change in


course.
Unfortunately without the insertion of many of the things addressed,
which are covered in even greater detail as we move along, its highly
unlikely that any grand accomplishment will be made with Kaizen, and even
less likely that a full and complete change will occur. But at some distinct
point (which no one can predict for certain) if we fail to make a satisfactory change on a substantially large scale in the United States, we will move
beyond the point of no return. However, we still have time if we approach
the matter with the right frame of mind and are willing to seriously challenge the status quo.

Key Summary Points


The matter of appropriately utilizing production engineering cannot
be overemphasized. Most companies simply havent given enough
attention to the role this particular resource should play in the implementation of Lean Manufacturing (see Taking a Close Look at the
Distribution of Change).
The plant manager must make certain that all production managers
and supervisors, along with all needed support functions, carry written
objectives that serve to enhance the achievement of the stated mission
of Kaizen and the full implementation of Lean Manufacturing (see
Characteristics of Lean-Oriented Plant Managers).
Having the head of the maintenance department report to the Lean
coordinator takes any arguments and delays out of the equation. A
further reason is that it takes maintenance projects that could be seen
as important to the current leadership of maintenance (but which do
nothing to support a viable Kaizen effort) and provides a strong voice
in redirecting priorities (see Maintenance Manager).
Toyota didnt reach the status it holds in manufacturing excellence by
making Kaizen a solely management-run and operated process. It drove
the mind-set and thinking down to the employee level and provided
employees the opportunity to make change for the better on their own.
We have to do no less if we hope to make manufacturing what it needs
to be to compete in todays challenging environment (see Special
Consideration of Owner-Operators).
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

Addressing Key Roles and Supporting Tactics 61

A standard Kaizen event involves a select group of participants taking time away from their day-to-day jobs and working as a wellsupervised team, under the direction of a qualified instructor. A
waste reduction activity process takes Kaizen a step further by providing a means and an incentive for employees to apply it to their
individual jobs (see Value of Inserting a WRAP Initiative).
In order to make Kaizen all it can be, the general thinking within an
organization has to change: it has to be adequately supported from
a management standpoint, and has to incorporate methods beyond
performing the sheer mechanics of Kaizen. One might ask if you
dont have the kind of management characteristics noted if Kaizen is
doomed. The answer is not entirely, although it does require someone
of influence who expends the effort to preach the right message and
who works hard at getting senior managements support for a change in
course (see Tactics for Getting the Best Results Out of Kaizen).

2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

Chapter 3

Avoiding the Typical Pitfalls


As should be obvious at this point, Kaizen isnt something that can be left
entirely to its own devices. It has to be coupled with a detailed plan of
action that spells out the specific type of Kaizen that will be utilized, at
what point in Lean implementation it will be used, and specifically where
the effort will be directed and why. This requires the Lean coordinator, the
plant manager, and potentially others to sit down and give serious thought
as to how the system of production will be fully changed, giving consideration to the entire factory, from receiving to shipping. Anything less is
basically a haphazard approach to Lean that likely will not take the factory
where it needs to go.
The finished and approved plan has to be further reviewed and followed
up on by senior management on a seriously active basis. It has to be something focused on daily and reported on and reviewed just as frequently as
to how well production is going or how budgets and forecasts are being
maintained. How to go about this task is addressed in Chapter 5, under
Constructing a Master Kaizen Plan.
We havent as yet learned to be as proficient with Kaizen or the planning
required that is called for by the change itself. That isnt intended as a criticism of typical Kaizen activities, but rather as an observation as to where
U.S. manufacturing currently stands and what we must do differently to get
the absolute best results out of the process.
In conjunction with a sound plan for implementation and the associated Kaizen activity involved, there are some typical pitfalls that should be
kept in mind and avoided. We can start by looking at outside influences
on the process.
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

63

64 Progressive Kaizen

Allowing Outside Assistance to Cloud a Path to Success


As a consultant in the field of Lean Manufacturing I respect the importance a
qualified individual can lend the effort, especially on the front end of a Lean
initiative or when significant problems arise with implementation. On the
other hand, having also served as a plant manager I fully understand the difficulty associated with justifying an extraordinary expense that doesnt end
up resolving an immediate production need. This points to the fact that precisely how and when consulting services are warranted, along with what the
consulting activity is aimed at accomplishing, should be carefully evaluated.
There will generally be occasions where the assistance of a knowledgeable consultant is needed. However, the buyer should beware. Literally
hundreds, if not thousands, of Lean consultants have emerged over the
past decade, as Lean has grown in industry awareness and acceptance.
Along with this has come a somewhat confusing mix of tactics and advice.
Its therefore vital to know precisely what one is getting in the bargain when
soliciting outside services to assist with the implementation of Lean.
There are numerous ways of going about selecting a good consultant.
One is basing the selection on a recommendation from a trusted source who
has used a particular service and was pleased with the outcome. But regardless of who is selected to discuss the possibility of using his or her service,
there are some steps that can be taken to help the decision-making process.
Outside of the common items generally discussed, such as background,
applied expertise in the field, and the like, the following are some pointers
that serve to tell much about the candidates:
1. Ask them to accompany you on a plant tour and point out to you
where they see various deficiencies and opportunities for improvement. Any Lean consultant who cant identify a number of improvement
opportunities during a quick walk-through of a conventional manufacturing operation simply isnt qualified. You should end the interview as
quickly as possible and look elsewhere.
2. Make a point to quiz them about the key accomplishments theyve personally been involved with in managing or directing. Any good consultant will usually provide a list of clients with whom he or the company
he represents has worked. But if he cant easily discuss improvements
he personally participated in leading and speak intelligently to some
very significant accomplishments, he simply isnt the kind of Lean consultant who should be considered.
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

Avoiding the Typical Pitfalls 65

3. Ask them to share a vision of what a fully Lean-oriented factory would


represent, both visually and operationally. In that expressed vision there
should be a description of a factory that has fully moved its system of
production from conventional manufacturing practices to world-class
approach. Among other things, the envisioned factory would include
the following:
Extensive visual controls throughout
A fully incorporated factorywide pull system of production
The elimination of scrap and rework
Single-minute setup and changeover of equipment
Inspection and correction devices built in at the source of operation
A well-identified place for everything and everything in its place
U-Cell equipment and processing layout arrangements
Point-of-use manufacturing applications
A clear and evident use of SMED, Poka-Yoke, and TPM
If the candidates vision doesnt closely approximate this, it is highly
unlikely that he is the kind of consultant that should be considered.
4. Ask them to provide a Lean Manufacturing Plant Assessment without
charge, prior to obtaining an agreement for use of their services (other
than the company covering the expense of any necessary travel, lodging, and transportation). Any Lean consultant who isnt willing to do
this either has more business than he can handle or doesnt feel he
could pass the test. Asking for this should be viewed as an insurance
policy, of sorts, which will go a long way in pointing out the qualifications of the consultant and the services he can potentially render,
spelled out in a summary report on the findings and recommendations
outlined by the consultant involved.
The important thing is to get a good reading of the consultants knowledge and ability to effectively address the needs of the factory in a manner
that serves to build teamwork and understanding. Another thing to remember when using the services of an outside consultant is to guard against taking actions based entirely on his feelings about how things should be done.
They can and should give specific guidance and input. But its always good
to remember that no matter how qualified a consultant may be, he is an outsider looking in and someone who isnt fully familiar with the interworkings
of a given business or production process.
The best and most effective change will always come from the workforce
itself. The consultants job should not be to direct specific change, but rather
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

66 Progressive Kaizen

to bring something to the effort that is truly needed in elevating both the
awareness and the ability of the workforce. One of the hardest things for
most Lean consultants is learning how to back away enough to encourage
participants to use their own brainpower in making change for the better.
RELATED EXPERIENCE: Ive always striven to guard against telling a
factory precisely what changes should be made. This wasnt because
I didnt recognize where many of the greatest opportunities rested. It
was because I felt strongly it was more important to pass on the kind
of training and know-how that led employees to see the opportunities and take a genuine interest in making change for the better. My
opinion on that has never swayed.
In an event I was conducting, the team involved was struggling with
precisely how to lay out an area anew. I was called aside by the plant
manager and asked how I would go about it. My response was that
although I could obviously insert my opinion about how the work area
should precisely be laid out and the team would likely jump at using
the input, doing so would essentially make it my layout and not theirs. I
went on to assure him not to worry; I would coach the team as needed
and help them guard against doing something that fell outside the
parameters of good Lean Manufacturing principles.
The plant manager went along although there was a level of discomfort expressed. In the end, however, the team implemented a layout
that was admirably better than anticipated and the factory went on to
achieve some extremely good accomplishments. The question could be
was the layout what I would have done on my own, and the answer
to that is, not entirely. But the point to be made is that a much better
layout was accomplished and Lean Manufacturing principles and techniques were strongly applied.
As most Lean enthusiasts know, in reality there is no such thing as a
perfect layout, just a better layout where opportunities for improvement
will always exist. That is why Lean in the larger sense is a never-ending
process (something to which Toyota will testify) and why a strong ongoing Kaizen effort is absolutely essential. Both the depth and effectiveness
of change are extremely important, however, just as vital is the learning
experience it provides the workforce. In fact, to a large degree, the latter
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

Avoiding the Typical Pitfalls 67

serves a more important and lasting purpose. Equipment and production


processing come and go, but the applied knowledge of the workforce
remains a resource on which to build. Therefore, actively involving the
workforce in the process and providing them with the know-how is critical to making Lean a full and absolute success.
A truly effective Kaizen effort must be a strong collaboration between
management and employees, which essentially says to everyone involved:
We are in this thing together and will work very closely in bringing
about the kind of change that serves to make the company more
competitive and everyones job more secure. In keeping with that
mission, there will be no changes made without appropriate input
and representation from those who end up inheriting the results.
Something that most manufacturing managers may not like to hear, but
which is extremely important to a Lean effort, is that its better to allow participants to make a mistake and come to see how to correct it, than to push
them for absolute perfection.
What can go a long way in seriously cutting down on mistakes is to
encourage participants to keep the four guiding principles in mind (workplace organization, uninterrupted flow, insignificant changeover, and errorfree processing). By teaching participants these principles and requiring
a substantial focus on them, it becomes as simple as asking the question,
Where does the change you would like to make fit with one or more of the
guiding principles? If the team cant readily point out where the principles
apply, its time to ask them to give the proposal more thought. Doing this
provides the team involved with sound reasoning for asking them to rethink
a proposal and goes a long way in avoiding the impression that any work
and effort they put forth was simply shot down by the powers above.

Misstep of Excluding Office Functions


A major misstep manufacturing operations tend to make is not actively
involving office functions and salaried employees in the Kaizen process.
Although select salaried employees are sometimes asked to participate in
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

68 Progressive Kaizen

helping improve the shop floor, the office itself has been virtually exempt
from the process in many organizations. This happens because Kaizen is
generally seen as an activity aimed at improving the production process and
not the work performed in the office.
Although it is true enough that some Kaizen has been aimed at various
office processes, for the most part office employees have been left out of the
process, or perhaps better said, havent been invited to actively participate
in improving their own jobs. The very same guiding principles noted for
change on the production floor apply to change in the office arena, especially workplace organization and error-free processing.
First and foremost in getting the ball rolling is recognizing and accepting that it is vitally important to involve salaried workers in the Kaizen
process and from there to put some form of action plan in place to make
it happen. Office Kaizen, as it is usually referred to, is somewhat more
difficult to both organize and conduct than shop floor Kaizen. This is
because there are usually few written instructions and very little standardization associated with common ongoing activities, as opposed to shop
floor operations where things are generally spelled out in a precise stepby-step manner.
Using the process of Kaizen should be driven down to the individual
job level to the greatest extent possible, across the entire enterprise. This
is best achieved by giving each and every salaried employee training and
establishing a platform that goes about encouraging them to apply Kaizen
actively to their individual assignments. One manner of elevating this, as
previously mentioned, is putting WRAP in place, which provides an incentive to making effective change. The amount and type of award varies
depending on how a company decides to approach the matter of a bonus,
but accepted improvements in the office would most often involve things
such as:
Clearly reducing paperwork or redundancy of effort
Shortening the time span for a repetitive business process, such as
order entry
Improving the efficiency of ones job, thus creating the time to take on
additional work and responsibilities
Under the best circumstances, a company would have a Lean coordinator who focused on training and making change to the production floor,
along with a qualified assistant who focused time and effort on managing
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Avoiding the Typical Pitfalls 69

the companys WRAP initiative and working to advance Kaizen in the office
functions. To provide a clearer picture regarding how such an approach
would typically work, the following is noted:
In a fictional company we simply call Manufacturing, Tim is the
assigned Lean coordinator. He has a strong background in manufacturing and firsthand experience in Kaizen, and is recognized as
having an advanced understanding of Lean and how to apply it.
Working for Tim is Ellen, who comes without a solid background
in Lean, but has been nurtured and coached by Tim. As part of her
initial training Ellen was sent to a number of outside training seminars in Lean and Kaizen. Functionally, Tim spends most of his time
conducting shop floor related Kaizen. Ellen spends her time coordinating the companys WRAP initiative and conducting Kaizen
events for those in the office. Both Tim and Ellen work together
as a team in organizing and facilitating the far less frequent but
extremely important High-Impact Kaizen events, which normally
take place once or twice a year.

A Special Word about Lean and a Companys Financial Arm


Most companies do not apply the amount of resources noted in the above
example to their Kaizen initiative. In fact, many companies have an assigned
Lean coordinator who typically carries the duties of the role, along with
other production-sustaining responsibilities. This could be an industrial engineer, for example, who is not only responsible for conducting Kaizen training (on an occasional basis at best) but also holds a production engineering
sustaining role in the factory.
Other examples could be given, but in order to make Kaizen all it
can be, the process needs to be elevated into the office functions just as
actively as its pursued on the shop floor. Doing this in the proper manner
requires an adequate resource base for coordination, which would ideally
involve two to three well-trained and thoroughly qualified individuals at
a minimum. working full time on the effort. When Ive passed this particular suggestion on to various operations, Ive often been told that the
plant simply couldnt afford to make the added investment required. My
response was always, If youre really serious about Lean, you cant afford
not to.
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70 Progressive Kaizen

It has always amazed me how companies manage to justify what


amounts to an inadequate resource base for Lean. The same people would
never have the purchasing function, for example, run by someone on a
part-time basis. On the other hand, they often see directing something as
large and all encompassing as fully changing a plants system of production
as capable of being handled in just that manner. The end result is usually
one person held responsible for all the planning, training, and coordination
involved. It simply doesnt add up and I contend when this occurs management either fails to understand the extent and importance of the task
involved or really isnt all that serious about Lean.
If Lean implementation is to be recognized and accepted for what it actually means in importance to the future, the financial arm of the company
has to take care in viewing it as just another special expense. They have to
be led to accept it as something absolutely critical to the long-term financial
stability of the company. Unfortunately, achieving this level of awareness and
acceptance hasnt happened on a large scale in U.S.-based industry, and its
something Americas business leaders hold the chief responsibility in ensuring that it happens.
That aside, however, changing the system of production requires salaried
support functions that understand the importance of improving their normal
activities in order to support a full-fledged thrust to Lean. This frankly cannot be done unless each and every employee is given appropriate training
in Lean, along with establishing a process that encourages them to use the
principles of Kaizen in their day-to-day work.

Allowing Kaizen Accomplishments to Deteriorate


One of the most damaging things that can happen with any Kaizen effort is
to allow accomplishments made to erode. This sends absolutely the wrong
message. I have seen repeated cases of letting Kaizen accomplishments slowly
deteriorate as time goes by. In the simplest reasoning as to why, it usually
centers on letting other initiatives and the like overpower the progress of
Lean. This often boils down to the workforce allowing attention to the measurements that drive the existing system of production take precedence over
inserting and maintaining a much more competitive approach to manufacturing, and until the general mind-set of both management and employees alike
becomes acutely directed at the task, things typically arent going to change.
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

Avoiding the Typical Pitfalls 71

RELATED EXPERIENCE: I was working with a company that hired me


to conduct a two-week Kaizen session aimed at developing a showcase
area for the factory. What was meant by showcase was an area that
incorporated all the key aspects of Lean Manufacturing that could be
used to indicate to employees, visitors, and others where the factory
was headed in the future.
The event itself went extremely well. Tremendous change was made.
Workplace organization was taken to the ultimate, general product flow
was completely revised, space was reduced, and excellent visual controls abounded throughout. The first true pull zone for the factory was
instituted and it appeared the plant was on its way to driving the same
type of change through the entire factory.
I came to find out later, however, that the pull-production concept
never developed as intended and over a period of time, visual controls and other changes that were made gradually began to deteriorate.
For reasons of confidentiality I cant get into the specific influences
involved, but its another example of taking a step in the right direction
and then letting other issues get in the way of progress. Intentions were
good and the need for change was firmly recognized, but the process
of fully implementing Lean fell by the wayside due to other pressing
circumstances.
It would be nice if every manufacturing operation in the United States
had a Taiichi Ohno (the recognized father of the Toyota production system) who held the power, leverage, and know-how to not only insist, but
forcefully demand the kind of change required. It isnt of course realistic to
expect this level of zeal from every plant manager or from those otherwise
in charge of making the highest level decisions for a factory. As a result, the
duty typically falls on an individual in a recognized coordination position,
who, it is hoped, is willing to stand up and fight for not only maintaining
the changes made, but persistently moving things forward with additional
improvements.
To a large extent when a plant manager takes on a complete change
to a factory that goes entirely against the grain of how things have
always been done, it isnt something that can be approached in a tentative or less than aggressive fashion. Someone has to be adamant about
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72 Progressive Kaizen

the need for change, fully committed to seeing it through, and unwilling
to take no for an answer. Under the very best scenario that person would
be the plant manager. But regardless of who accepts the challenge, leading a complete change to the existing system of production isnt a job for
the meek or ill prepared.
I can personally testify to the fact there is indeed the chance of seriously
alienating some members of the workforce, up to the point of their doing
everything within their power to cast as much doubt and despair as possible
on the effort, including the person seen as leading that effort. Sometimes
various outspoken employees who have been around an operation for years
on end will see the change being conducted as a direct threat to their job
security and will make a point of persistently criticizing the effort. There
really isnt much that can be done to avert this, other than conducting
appropriate communications as to the need and staying aware of treating
everyones feelings about the matter as fairly as possible.
But for those taking on the challenge of making necessary change and
ensuring that it remains intact, my advice would be to push implementation in a fervent and energetic manner. Do the job that needs to be done,
never fearing you may inadvertently make as many enemies as friends along
the way because, as dark as things may appear from time to time, you will
eventually be recognized for your efforts and rewarded accordingly. That
much I can say with almost absolute assurance.
A practice the plant manager can use to ensure that the erosion of accomplishments doesnt occur is a weekly Lean tour. In performing the tour,
which had no set time or schedule for the purpose of making certain the
floor didnt go out of its way to prepare things for the visit, I always asked
the members of my staff who could break loose to accompany me and also
took along the Lean coordinator.
During the tour as it came to be known, we reviewed any recent work
that had been done (which assumes some form of Kaizen is performed
every week) and chose an area where change had been made in order to
make a closer examination. In the area selected we looked at what had
been documented as improvements, comparing these to what was actually going on, on the shop floor, making certain they were still intact. We
then went about discussing where further improvements could potentially
be made, speaking with operators and others as required. If any slippage
had occurred it was addressed with the assigned production supervisor,
who followed up within three days with a written report indicating what
had been done to bring the area back, at a minimum, to its original level
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Avoiding the Typical Pitfalls 73

of accomplishment. This served to tell the workforce that management was


extremely serious about Lean Manufacturing, along with moving the process
forward as rapidly and effectively as possible.
Although I cannot say that a Lean effort is doomed if the plant manager doesnt do something similar, I can say with absolute certainty that
some form of adequate management audit has to occur, in order to ensure
the erosion of accomplishments doesnt happen and to keep the attention
level focused on Lean. It has been my experience that if the plant manager
doesnt leave the distinct impression that he or she is solidly behind the
effort, the odds are high that Lean will be viewed by most of the workforce
as a less than important priority.
RELATED EXPERIENCE: I make a practice of providing a free plant
assessment for a factory interested in an unbiased opinion about how
they are doing with the insertion of Lean Manufacturing. In one such
venture I was making a walk-through with the Lean coordinator.
At a series of metal cutting machines he was showing me the visual
controls that had been put in place, which were very well done and
gave the impression that good Lean practices were being utilized.
Before leaving the area I asked him about a series of locked cabinets
arranged at each machine. He informed me they were used to keep the
necessary tools and components used for changing the equipment over.
For a number of reasons, Ive always disliked the thought of locked
cabinets and asked if we could take a look inside. What we found both
highly surprised him and confirmed my opinion about the practice.
The cabinet we observed was correctly labeled for the tools and components required, but some of the needed tools were missing or not
in their assigned location. In addition, we found that the tool cabinets
were being used to store various personal items.
After a search of the general work area the missing tools could not be
found and it was discovered that a visual aid cross-reference had not
been updated. The Lean coordinator immediately addressed the matter
with those involved and made it clear he wanted a written plan of action
that provided assurance the situation was fully corrected and never happened again. He went on to take the time to explain to the operators that
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

74 Progressive Kaizen

although they would have probably been able to put their hands on the
tools needed, the effort put forth in a search for them was nothing but
wasted time and a distraction to efficiently meeting customer demand.
When he was finished, he apologized for the delay and we returned to
the walk-through. As we moved along, I made the point to assure him
if hed done anything less than hed stopped and taken the time for, I
would have been seriously disappointed.
It could be said that this sort of thing could happen from time to time
in any Lean effort. After all, theres always the issue of ongoing changes
in personnel, written procedures, and so forth. What was pointed out,
however, is actually an indictment of conventional manufacturing,
which until its been thoroughly revised will always include a lack of
appropriate discipline. The important thing when slippage is discovered
is to immediately correct the situation and leave a clear message that
any reoccurrence will simply not be tolerated, which was exactly what
was done.

Failure to Communicate the Full


Extent and Scope of Kaizen
Something that ties directly to the preceding subject is a failure to communicate the full extent and scope of Kaizen to everyone involved. It is extremely
important on the front end to let the workforce know:
The vital importance of fully changing the existing system of production
The approximate timing involved in making a full plant transition
How far the process must go in terms of individual job responsibility
These are not always easy matters to discuss and doing so requires very
thoughtfully deciding how to approach the subject. In Lean Manufacturing;
Implementation Strategies That Work under Getting the Message Over to
the Troops, a complete speech is outlined, as an example of the kinds of
things that should be addressed in the initial communications to the workforce. No one message, however, no matter how good it may be, will suffice
as having properly communicated the full extent and scope of Kaizen. The
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Avoiding the Typical Pitfalls 75

first message has to be reinforced on no less than a quarterly basis, at least


for a time.
Its important to remember what the workforce is being asked is to stop
doing much of what theyve been taught to do in the past and approach
their job in an entirely different manner. Getting this across is complicated
by the fact that it isnt something thats going to happen overnight. At best
its a relatively extended process: 18 to 24 months under a fairly aggressive application of Lean. It is somewhat like telling everyone, I have a
new job for you, but most of you will have to wait and see precisely what
thats going to be. What most of the workforce is going to see is a rather
extended transition in getting everyone fully trained and properly aligned.
As a result, elevating and keeping the message going is one of the more
important aspects of a good Lean initiative.
The key is to start the ball rolling and diligently pound the point home
for as long as the need is there. This level of communication typically isnt
achieved in most operations, but its truly needed if Kaizen is elevated to
the position it should hold. One manner of clearly expressing the purpose
of Kaizen and keeping it in front of everyone is a visual displayed in numerous areas of the factory, which can be used to represent both the value and
need of Lean.
Conventional versus World Class Manufacturing

Differences in Approach
Prevention
(PPM/Poka-Yoke)

Pull
(1-Piece flow)

Proactive
(TPM)

Teamwork
(Work cells)

Kaizen
(Structured)

Quality

Production

Maintenance

Employees

Improvements

Detection
(% Defective/scrap)

Push
(Batch)

Reactive
(Run to failure)

Individual
(Piece work)

Complex
(Cumbersome)
180 Degrees Apart!

Figure 3.1 Conventional versus world-class manufacturing.

2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

76 Progressive Kaizen

Figure3.1 is only one of a number that can help with design. This particular chart may not be what is chosen in getting the word out and keeping
a constant reminder in front of everyone; however, it denotes the differences
that exist between conventional manufacturing and a world-class approach,
Those differences are expressed in terms of quality, production techniques,
equipment maintenance, the manner in which employees are expected to
work, and how improvements to the operation are typically made.
For example, quality under a Lean Manufacturing approach is focused on
prevention, utilizing parts per million as a measurement and Poka-Yoke as a
tool for correcting and preventing quality issues. The conventional manufacturing approach is 180 degrees in opposition and focuses on detection, using
percentage defective as a measurement and scrap and rework as a common
solution. In a nutshell, the other major differences noted are:
Production is pulled rather than pushed through the factory.
Maintenance is proactive rather than reactive (using TPM versus running equipment to failure).
Employees work as a team rather than having a strict focus on individual output.
Last, but not least, the process of improvement is structured change
under the guiding principles of Kaizen, as opposed to change that is
usually complex in nature and cumbersome in application.

Failure to Effectively Utilize the


Production Engineering Function
The Industrial Engineering (IE) and Manufacturing Engineering (ME) functions, commonly referred to as Production Engineering (PE), play a significant role in making Kaizen all it can be. Unfortunately, this resource isnt
always used to a companys best advantage. Having been an IE manager for
years before moving into a plant management role, I have a good working
knowledge of both functions. I therefore believe I have the background to
speak to the role a plants production engineering staff can and should play
in making Kaizen all it should be.
Why companies havent made production engineering the leading function
in advancing world-class manufacturing principles and concepts is something
Ive always had difficulty understanding. A good guess is that most production engineering functions have been downsized over the past two decades,
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

Avoiding the Typical Pitfalls 77

which has left little time for anything other than sustaining work, involving
such things as developing and maintaining process sheets, performing methods analysis and work measurement, establishing labor standards for product
cost purposes, ordering and installing equipment, and the like.
I truly believe theres a need for companies to seriously reassess their
production engineering function and more actively involve them in the
Kaizen process. I further believe colleges and universities should put a much
stronger emphasis on the educational aspects of Lean Manufacturing in
order for graduates to come to industry with the fundamental knowledge
needed to help advance the process.
In Lean Manufacturing; Implementation Strategies That Work, Chapter 5,
Choosing and Aligning the Engineering Staff, I addressed using production
engineering to initiate Lean Manufacturing in a factory, with the principal
focus on engineering a plants key production equipment to be in tune with
fully supporting an active Lean initiative.
Industrial engineering has long been viewed as a profession aimed at
improving methods and efficiency. Manufacturing engineering is typically
viewed as a profession that specializes in equipment and production processing development. Who then is better qualified to assume a lead role in Kaizen?
The answer is obviously no one. But I have repeatedly seen production engineers grossly underutilized, with little to no real ownership in the process.
There are three key areas where production engineering becomes a
vital player. The first is with a qualified application of Poka-Yoke, where
efforts are made to install improvements to equipment, fixturing, and the
like, aimed at avoiding common production errors and building quality in
at point of use. The second area is in the advanced application of SMED,
where setup on key equipment is cut to single minutes, at a minimum.
Most of the expertise for SMED and Poka-Yoke will rest with a companys
manufacturing engineers, but a third and extremely important area of
expertise required is with Standard Work (methods and work measurement), which not only establishes where opportunities exist for productivity
improvement, but sets the basics for both methodizing and standardizing
repetitive production work.
Many manufacturing operations have been led to believe that almost any
employee can be trained to adequately perform Poka-Yoke, SMED, and work
measurement. This is far from actually being the case. Performing Poka-Yoke
and SMED in an appropriate manner requires someone that is reasonably
educated and skilled in equipment processing and design. Work measurement in turn requires someone that has an educational background in
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

78 Progressive Kaizen

methods and time analysis. Ive had companies that were strongly into Lean
take a bone of contention with that position. But the fact of the matter is
that Standard Work by design ignores performance rating for skill and effort,
assuming the individual being studied is a fully qualified employee who
aspires to giving a normal effort.
If there is one area where weve been somewhat misled or misinformed, its in the area of work measurement or what is referred to in the
Toyota production system as Standard Work. In my visits to Japan, I toured
numerous factories that aspired to Toyotas system and witnessed excellent
applications throughout. But not once did I see anyone performing work
measurement other than qualified production engineers.
Having personally conducted literally thousands of time and motion
studies during the early stages of my career, I can assure anyone that
the feeling any employee can be adequately trained in a short period of
time to perform work measurement simply isnt an assumption a company can afford to make. Standard Work teaches that throwing out various highs and lows in the times recorded suffices in overcoming any
question regarding skill and effort. This again is an assumption that simply isnt valid. Regardless of how many individual readings are taken and
how many of the readings are accepted or retracted, if an operator isnt
appropriately skilled at the job or extends more or less effort than what
truly represents a normal pace, the time derived from that study (used for
establishing cost standards and other purposes) will be wrong. Its just
that simple.
This doesnt mean hourly supervisors, production workers, and others
cant be trained to take the data developed and utilize combination work
sheets, percent loading charts, and other established tools of analysis to
make improvements. They most definitely can. However, the work of gathering such data best fits a well-qualified industrial engineer.
Figure3.2 points out where the conveyance of production engineerings talent should be directed. Best put, a plant should cautiously avoid the
pitfall of not fully and effectively utilizing the production engineering staff
in advancing Lean Manufacturing. But an operations ability to effectively
involve them depends on two key factors:
The functions overall work load and available resources
A companys willingness to acquire additional engineering talent, as
needed, in order to actively support Kaizen and make a full thrust with
Lean Manufacturing
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

Avoiding the Typical Pitfalls 79

Production Engineering

Lean audit &


follow-up

Production
Engineering

Normal
sustaining
activities

Lean advice &


counsel

Engineering
equipment
for Lean
Conveyance of talent and ability

Figure 3.2 Production engineeringConveyance of talent and ability.

Failure to Restructure the Stated Objectives of Key Players


Another flaw with many Kaizen efforts is the oversight of failing to
restructure the formally written and approved objectives of a number of
key players in the process. The positions that are absolutely critical to the
effort are:
The production manager
The floor supervisor
The production engineer
Most often the positions noted hold formal objectives that are essentially in conflict with the full incorporation of good Lean Manufacturing
principles. Standard objectives normally involve things such as striving
to increase operator output in order to theoretically absorb direct labor
costs. There are many other such commonly stated objectives that apply.
But when a company through its formal structured objectives inadvertently or otherwise encourages building excessive inventory, it is touting the things that go directly against what is hoped to be achieved with
Lean Manufacturing.
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

80 Progressive Kaizen

Anyone with a good background in manufacturing and a reasonable


knowledge of Lean Manufacturing understands that building excessive
inventory isnt the entire culprit for the inefficiencies that batch manufacturing represents. However, it is easily the most visible example that a plant is
on the wrong track and has a substantial way to go.
There is usually a direct conflict with conventional objectives that
have to be dealt with if any significant progress in changing the system
of production is to be achieved. Although it isnt practical to expect a
firm that has long used batch production to replace its typical measurements and individual objectives with those that are fully in tune with Lean
Manufacturing, an effort has to be made to reconstruct at least some of the
stated objectives for a number of key positions. Doing this is sometimes
a delicate balancing act and one that cannot go without some thoughtful
consideration.
The following serves to address each of the key positions involved and
speak more specifically to what some of these positions stated objectives should
include, in order to more effectively advance Lean and the use of Kaizen.

Production Managers Stated Objectives


The production manager is the individual in charge of all shop floor activity, aimed at ensuring schedule reliability, quality, and delivery. Its a big
job and one that usually requires a forceful personality. This can be a
good attribute in helping to aggressively push a Lean initiative forward,
given that the production manager not only has a knowledgeable respect
for Lean, but a few reasonably weighted objectives that will help to guide
his or her efforts. Two very good related objectives to consider for this
particular position are:
1. Ensuring an agreed-upon percentage of the hourly workforce attends a
Kaizen training and implementation event and receives certification.
2. Ensuring an agreed-upon percentage of the plants key production equipment is made available for a full application of SMED, Poka-Yoke, and
TPM.
For a company that is serious-minded about Lean Manufacturing, such
objectives should carry a combined weight factor that is no less than 40% of
the total.
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

Avoiding the Typical Pitfalls 81

RELATED EXPERIENCE: In a conversation I was having with a plant


manager on this subject, who very strongly supported Lean, he proceeded to make it clear that he felt a combined weight factor of 40%
was simply too high. The conversation went something like this:
The plant as a whole is still operating under a batch system of production and this will continue until we end up making the kind of change
we need across the entire factory. But in all fairness, I dont see how I can
reasonably base almost half of how our people are measured for a potential merit increase on such a small percentage of whats actually going on
in the factory,
I believe youre missing my point, I replied. Im not recommending that you amend everyones objectives. Im suggesting you consider
including some reasonably high-weighted objectives for a number of key
players. Accountability has to start somewhere if youre going to make
a success of it, and you need to keep in mind if they do things right in
meeting a set of Lean objectives, it can only enhance the other facets of
their job responsibility.
I understand we need to get there as rapidly as possible, he
responded. But in the meantime we still have to run the business
in keeping with the way were measured and expected to perform.
I simply have a fundamental problem with the weight factor youre
suggesting.
So what would you be comfortable with? I proceeded to ask.
I think 20% would be more appropriate and would certainly be challenging enough for the circumstances, he replied.
I told him that would be a start in the right direction, but asked him to
do me a favor: Id like you to get an understanding with the people
involved on a couple of key objectives aimed at advancing Lean and
then allow them to suggest what they think the combined weight factor
of those should be. From there you can decide what youre comfortable
with. Who knows? They might surprise you.

2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

82 Progressive Kaizen

He agreed and two weeks later I checked back to see how things were
going. He related that in a conversation with some of his key people
about the combined weight factor for a set of Lean objectives, that hed
apparently done a good job of selling the importance to everyone;
going on to add they had ended up agreeing on 40%. I didnt start out
by jamming 40% down their throat, he noted. We just ended up there
as the discussion proceeded.
So what was your major selling point? I asked out of curiosity.
That potentially all our jobs were at stake if we failed to focus some
proper attention on making the kind of change needed, he replied,
before adding with a chuckle: Heck, you would have thought it was
you talking rather than me.
The lesson that can be taken from that experience is not to let preconceived notions drive decisions pertaining to an appropriate environment for
change. The change needed requires moving things along in a reasonably
urgent manner and doing this calls for certain individuals to assume a strong
supportive role, which likely will not happen without clearly defining some
meaningful and challenging obligations to the process.

Shop Floor Supervisors Stated Objectives


The shop floor supervisor is the production employees direct link to management. The supervisors actions therefore create a perception in employees minds about management in general. That perception of course can
be either good or bad depending on the factors that drive the supervisors
conduct and interaction with subordinates. The individual serving in this
role typically has one primary mission whether it is formalized or not. That
mission is to fully meet assigned production schedules and operate within
the guidelines of an established budget, with the manpower given to accomplish the task.
One of my early jobs in manufacturing was working as a production foreman in a school and office furniture factory. I will never forget it, because it
gave me a sincere appreciation and a relatively good understanding of the
role and responsibilities of the job. I was 26 years old at the time and had
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

Avoiding the Typical Pitfalls 83

much to learn about manufacturing. But I was somewhat shocked at the lack
of actual authority the role carried. The people I was in charge of supervising were hired by the personnel department, for the most part void of any
real input on my part. The work to be accomplished was established by a
production schedule over which I had little to no control. Any and all serious personnel issues had to be directed to human resources, thus any disciplinary decisions boiled down to something passed down to me to enforce.
At the time I saw the role as little more than a mouthpiece for higher
authority and now, some 40 years later, I still have to say that feeling hasnt
changed substantially.
American manufacturing needs to provide shop floor supervisors with a
higher level of positive influence over the subordinates who directly report
to them. Given that much of what a production foreman does is carry out
a mission that has been handed down, Kaizen opens the door to providing the kind of influence Im speaking about, the kind that can serve to
strengthen the relationship between the supervisor and those who report
to him.
To provide that kind of influence, however, there has to be some sort of
added incentive attached to the results that come from Kaizen work, such as
that outlined earlier for a WRAP initiative. Otherwise, you are not only asking the production worker to do his normal job, but to go further in assisting the company to become world class, void of any reason other than
conscientiousness to do so. All I can say to that is good luck!
Two excellent objectives for the production supervisor are:
Ensuring a set percentage of the hourly employees reporting to the
supervisor implement Kaizen-related improvements to their jobs
Ensuring something is done in departmental communications to
advance Kaizen, such as seeing that a Lean control board for employees
is set up and fully utilized

Production Engineers Stated Objectives


The production engineer is usually an industrial or manufacturing engineer
assigned to perform sustaining work for a factory. This typically involves the
development of routing sheets, bills of material, work measurement, and so
forth. But as long as there is a Lean Manufacturing initiative in place and a
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

84 Progressive Kaizen

company hopes to successfully advance it, there are some key objectives that
production engineers should maintain. A couple of the more important are:
1. Ensuring there is a plan and process in place to bring a plants key
equipment up to speed, through an advanced application of SMED,
Poka-Yoke, Standard Work, and TPM
2. Playing a highly active role in advancing Kaizen activities and lending
assistance and counsel to others in the process, as needed
Doing this means production engineers have to be some of the best-trained
individuals in Lean Manufacturing and specifically in a thorough application
of Kaizen across the entire factory.

Error of Putting Lean in a Stand-By Mode


The last, but certainly not least, important pitfall to avoid is putting Lean
Manufacturing on hold because of pressing financial matters or other
factors. As mentioned, fully incorporating Lean isnt free. There is a cost
involved including the training of employees, the expense of moving
and rearranging equipment and facilities, and the cost associated with
bringing in outside talent to assist as needed, along with the salaries
of those dedicated both full and part time to the effort. Lean is a discretionary expense that is often chosen as one that can be placed on a
stand-by mode if needed in order to slash operating expense. Especially
in todays extremely tough economy, the pursuance of Lean becomes an
easy target, inasmuch as its often viewed as having nothing to do with
effectively meeting production schedules, the principal task assigned
manufacturing. But although that is true in one sense, it is absolutely
false in another.

First
A good, aggressive Lean Manufacturing effort can result in saving the company money in the form of significant reductions in scrap, rework, obsolescence, work-in-process inventory, and setup and changeover, along with
making vital improvements in direct labor efficiency and more. To some
degree, halting or delaying the implementation of Lean to reduce expenses
is like cutting off ones nose to spite ones face.
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

Avoiding the Typical Pitfalls 85

RELATED EXPERIENCE: I was working with a company, conducting a


series of training and implementation events over an 18-month period.
Some very substantial improvements were made and an ever-growing
number of employees were exposed to the process. After I wrapped
up the assignment, everything seemed to be on a positive track. Over
the course of the time I spent in the factory I made some very good
friends, including a number of the management staff, whom I frequently
spoke with about progress and gave advice and counsel as needed. I
came to find out afterwards that the company suddenly became faced
with some very stern competition out of China. The feeling was that the
competition was essentially striving to buy much of the market by fixing prices well below what it took to produce the products involved. In
order to compete with the challenge, a decision was made to meet the
competitors price for a time.
In doing so, operating expenses were evaluated and a decision was
made to cease any and all expenditures aimed at Lean Manufacturing.
The Lean coordinator was taken out of his role to assume a shop floor
supervisory position and from there all Kaizen and Lean-related activity essentially ceased. The Lean coordinator eventually moved on to
another job, performing Lean training and implementation.
Unfortunately, I wasnt aware of the extent of the problem until far too
many things were put in motion and didnt have the opportunity to
plead the case with management, prior to the decision being made. But
the company never regained the momentum it once had with Lean,
although it managed to survive with a downsizing and focus on niche
products for which the Chinese competition found little apparent interest in fighting.

Second
A decision to temporarily halt the insertion of Lean sends the wrong
message to the workforce. Even if the process is actively resumed at
some point down the road, it will usually be perceived as something
less than fully important to management and thus vital to the success of
the operation. Once a Lean initiative is underway, every effort should
be made to keep it an active ongoing process. In fact, most operations
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

86 Progressive Kaizen

would benefit, under tough economic conditions, to step up Kaizenrelated activity.


It would of course be easy to conclude the experience noted was a unique
circumstance, where the continuation of Kaizen-related activity and a focus on
fully implementing Lean would have made little difference. On the other hand,
as long as a company remains in business, downsized or otherwise, there is
always the chance of it happening again, up to and including the possibility of
being driven completely out of business. Therefore, before dropping or delaying
anything that serves to assist a company in becoming more competitive overall,
which Lean has been repeatedly proven to do, great care should be taken.
Its good to keep in mind that although Lean isnt something that always provides instant payback, it does provide the assurance an operation is on the right
track. Implementing Lean fully and achieving the substantial benefits requires
a long-term commitment and an unwavering effort, even under the most trying
circumstances. In fact, in times of unusual or unique competitive pressures, the
momentum of Lean should if anything be substantially increased.

The Dos and Donts Associated with Kaizen


As mentioned earlier, there are some definite dos and donts associated with
a viable Kaizen process. Two of the more important donts were noted previously, but are included again in the following.

Definite Dos
1. Do communicate the full extent and scope of Kaizen, noting the intent
is to make a full revision to the system of production and that the scope
of the change will come to involve each and every employee (hourly
and salaried) in the process.
2. Do appoint a full-time, highly qualified, and energetic Lean coordinator,
along with an adequate supporting staff.
3. Do make the best use of the companys production engineering function, specifically with regard to enhancing key production equipment in
support of Lean.
4. Do prepare an official Lean/Kaizen-related master plan, approved at the
highest levels and used as a roadmap and timeframe for the full implementation of Lean practices and procedures factorywide.
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

Avoiding the Typical Pitfalls 87

5. Do make absolutely certain the maintenance function is properly staffed


and fully capable of actively supporting a viable Lean Manufacturing
effort.
6. Do construct formal written objectives in support of Lean for a select
number of key players, aimed at creating their needed involvement and
support. As training and awareness proceed, require an increasing number of employees to carry formal Lean objectives.
7. Do begin actively driving the use of Kaizen into the office arena and up
the supplier chain.
8. Do formulate and introduce an incentive plan for Kaizen at an individual job level.

Definite Donts
1. Dont start a Kaizen event or activity unless maintenance is fully capable of supporting the effort.
2. Dont hold a Kaizen event or activity unless the right people are
involved.
3. Dont leave the impression Kaizen is a discretionary activity that isnt
absolutely vital to the success of the company.
4. Dont allow business conditions or other company undertakings to take
precedence to the point of delaying, minimizing, or seriously disrupting
the progress of Lean and associated Kaizen activity.
There are other dos and donts that arent absolutely vital, but which serve to
promote a more effective Kaizen process overall. These include:

Preferable Dos
1. Do, where possible, have the Lean coordinator report directly to the
plant manager.
2. Do, where feasible, have the maintenance manager report to the Lean
coordinator.
3. Do conduct at least one formal staff meeting monthly (chaired by the
plant manager) that is exclusively aimed at reviewing Kaizen activity
and the progress of fully inserting Lean Manufacturing.
4. Do incorporate regular management tours and audits of the process.
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

88 Progressive Kaizen

Preferable Donts
1. Dont turn down the opportunity to visit other factories using Lean and
learn everything possible about what they are doing. No one has a
monopoly on best practices and the process of learning should be an
ongoing activity.
2. Dont become lax in making a conscious effort aimed at aggressively
moving the process forward.

Simple Exercise for Getting the Most


Out of Any Kaizen Effort
One of the most difficult things to do in a Kaizen event is to get everyone
fully aligned with the task. Regardless of the type of Kaizen event being
conducted, covering the various versions of a process on the front end of an
event is one of the best ways of accomplishing the task (see Figure3.3). Every
process, regardless of whether its in the office or on the production floor, has
three versions. The first is what the process is thought to be, the second is
what the process actually is, and the third is what the process should be.
RELATED EXPERIENCE: I once asked the production manager of a
factory to outline on a flip chart precisely how a production process
we were discussing worked. I then invited him to accompany me to
the floor where we collectively went about accessing what was actually occurring. The differences we found were dramatic. We came to
learn that operators had taken it upon themselves to change the prescribed method outlined by engineering. Some of the changes made
were absolutely necessary, driven as we came to learn by a change
in material by the purchasing function, which somehow failed to be
related to both engineering and production management. But we
also found that other changes made by the operators were in no way
necessary and in fact served to increase the overall cycle time. To sum
things up, it was found that the new material was less expensive but
created problems with the equipment, which wasnt designed to readily accept it. The material was changed back to what was originally
specified and work was done on correcting the method utilized by the
operators involved, and the problems with the process disappeared.
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

Avoiding the Typical Pitfalls 89

Versions of a Process
Any process has 3 versions

What its thought to be

What it actually is

What it should be

Figure 3.3 Versions of a process.

To make the point, allow the participants to choose a process and discuss and record what the process is thought to be. Follow this by taking
the participants directly to the floor and recording what the process actually is. Sum up by allowing the participants to reach an agreement on what
the process should be. By the end of the exercise the participants should
generally be more knowledgeable about the task before them and much
more open to how Kaizen can assist in achieving lasting improvement.
Its important to be mindful that most manufacturing facilities have much
going on and communications and other facets of the business can sometimes fail to work as intended. As a result production processes on the
shop floor can be influenced in a negative manner and become problem
processes. Thus there is all the more reason that the principles of Lean
Manufacturing, driven by a viable Kaizen process, are fully incorporated and
audited on a regular basis; and further enhanced with an effective strategy
aimed at individual job improvement.

Key Summary Points


Staying Focused

Kaizen isnt something that can be left entirely to its own devices. It has to
be coupled with a sound plan that is reviewed by senior management and
followed up on a seriously active basis. It also has to be something that
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90 Progressive Kaizen

is focused on daily and reported on and reviewed just as frequently as to


how well production itself is going or how budgets and forecasts are being
maintained.

Avoiding Slippage
The very worst thing that can happen with a Kaizen initiative is to allow
accomplishments made to deteriorate. Someone at the factory level has to
be adamant about the need for change, fully committed to seeing it through,
and unwilling to take No for an answer. Under the very best scenario that
person would be the plant manager (see Allowing Kaizen Accomplishments
to Deteriorate).

Putting Lean Duties in Writing


It isnt practical to expect a firm that has long used batch production to
replace its typical measurements and common objectives with those that are
fully in tune with Lean Manufacturing. But changing or amending the written objectives of certain key players is vital to the overall success of a viable
Kaizen effort.

Various Versions of a Process


Every process, regardless of whether its in the office or on the production
floor has three versions. The first is what the process is thought to be, the
second is what it actually is, and the third is what the process should be
(see Figure3.3).

Removing Problems and Enhancing Individual Performance


Under typical manufacturing conditions production processes on the
shop floor can gradually be influenced in a negative manner and become
problem processes. Thus, all the more reason that the principles of Lean
Manufacturing, driven by a viable Kaizen process are fully incorporated,
audited on a regular basis, and enhanced with an effective strategy aimed at
individual job improvement (see Simple Exercise for Getting the Most Out
of Any Kaizen Effort).
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Avoiding the Typical Pitfalls 91

Vital Role of Production Engineering


There are three key areas where production engineering becomes a vital
player in Kaizen. The first is in a qualified application of Poka-Yoke, where
efforts are made to engineer improvements to equipment, tooling, and the
like, which are aimed at avoiding common production errors. The second
area is in the advanced application of SMED, where setup on key equipment in the factory is cut to single minutes, at a maximum. The third,
but far from least important, is being the function employees can rely
on for sound advice and direction in making improvements to their individual jobs (see Failure to Effectively Utilize the Production Engineering
Function).

2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

Chapter 4

Where to Start and


How to Proceed

Thinking Outside the Box


Robert Ballard, marine geologist and oceanographer, developed deep-sea
surveying tactics that led to the discovery of the Titanic, the Lusitania, the
German battleship Bismarck, and John F. Kennedys PT-109, among others. He did it with the same basic technology being used by other deep-sea
explorers but applied an entirely different strategy. Rather than using sonar
to try to locate the vessel itself, he worked to find the debris field leading up
to the vessel. It served to change the entire thinking about how to go about
deep-sea exploration. When Ballard was asked, in an interview on CBS
Televisions 60 Minutes, why hed been able to achieve what others couldnt,
his reply was, Because everyone had trouble thinking outside the box.
Incorporating Lean in the most effective manner and working to make
Kaizen a formidable competitive weapon starts with a willingness to move
outside the box of conventional implementation practices. The best ideas
and strategy will be of no avail if someone in a leadership position doesnt
decide to take the opportunity to apply them. The important consideration
is asking whether anything about it serves to restrict the plants ability to
adequately meet customer demand, in terms of cost, quality, or deliverability.
There is absolutely nothing about the outlined concept that can damage
a manufacturing operations ability in meeting its basic obligations to the
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93

94 Progressive Kaizen

business. In fact, all it can do is help. The single biggest hurdle is making
a sound case for the need and then gaining approval as required for any
added or extraordinary expense involved, which brings us to the topic of
cost and payback.

Sum of the Added Cost and Payback of Lean


Something very few advocates of Lean like to discuss is the sum of the
added cost a firm will have to absorb in order to make adequate progress
with implementation. To a large degree the impression has been given that
the cost of implementing Lean is basically insignificant. After all, firms are
told, the work is aimed at improving existing equipment and facilities and by
extending to the current workforce some hands-on training, a company can
make the change required with very little expense. Unfortunately, this simply doesnt represent reality. The old saying that you cant get something for
nothing applies to Lean as well as anything of real lasting value.
In a large manufacturing complex with a substantially large level of
employment (500 or more employees) the expense for Lean, if done properly, can be as high as $250,000 annually for the first two years of the effort.
The elements of cost potentially involve adding needed resources to the
production engineering ranks, hiring a Lean coordinator and providing the
coordinator with assistance (one to two employees), along with workforce
training, and the expense of maintenance time and materials.
The added expenses noted do not take into consideration any offsetting
factors, such as a company restructuring its typical annual training budget to
direct the funds principally at Lean. Nor does it take into consideration reorganizing the salaried ranks to provide the new resources required without
expanding overall salary headcount. If a genuine effort is made with respect
to these, which is highly recommended, it potentially means some existing
jobs would have to go in order to provide the resources needed for Lean
implementation, without substantially expanding the operating budget.
This isnt always a comfortable step to take but there is sound reason
and logic for the consideration of doing so, and it is why some solid planning has to take place before starting a Lean initiative. Ive seen repeated
cases where a start was made and the benefits of incorporating Lean
became extremely apparent. But what also became apparent was the fact
that in order to successfully spread the process across the factory it required
manpower and expenses the plant wasnt equipped to handle. When this
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Where to Start and How to Proceed 95

happens Lean often proceeds to die on the vine. Not an official death, of
course; the process just slowly begins to crumble.
Although there is indeed an added cost associated with implementing Lean in an effective manner, the payback can be substantial in terms
of greatly reducing wastes inherent to the system of production. In larger
operations, the usual reduction made in work-in-process inventory alone will
more than offset the added expenses noted. One cant forget if they carry a
level of WIP inventory approaching $300,000 or more (in some cases, substantially more) that means a large ongoing investment is made just to open
the doors of the factory and conduct business. Rid yourself of a large portion of that, which is what a good Lean initiative will accomplish, and the
savings can be used for other more rewarding investment purposes, such as
the cost of Lean itself.
Many of the benefits gained, however, are just as much related to making money as saving it. Under a good Lean initiative a plant should become
noticeably more flexible and customer responsive. There should be a definite
improvement in workmanship and product quality. Manufacturing lead-time
should begin to show steady improvement; along with all the measuring
sticks that lead to the potential of added business and additional profit.
As Ive stated in every book Ive written and wont pass up the opportunity to repeat again: No company can save its way to profitability. Think
about that a moment. If an operation puts a pronounced focus on saving money, its doing it for a reason. Most often that reason is due to panic
because the existing way of doing business is running into problems. But no
degree of reduction in the small things typically addressed in such an effort
is going to make the difference needed. Where the premium focus needs to
be is on what the company can do to make money, and that is where Lean
can be of substantial benefit.
Savings opportunities alone under Lean, however, can be substantial.
Assume theres a factory that has 150,000 square feet of manufacturing
space. The plant employs 155 direct labor employees and 45 indirect. The
cost of standard work-in-process inventory averages $300,000. The cost of
scrap and rework runs $20,000 annually and downtime expenses equate to
an average of $40,000. Using only these elements of the business for establishing a savings projection, the following apply as being highly potential
under a soundly implemented Lean process:
Minimum improvement of 30% in space requirements = 45,000 sq. ft.
of space opened for the procurement of additional business and/or
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new products, without the expense of brick and mortar. Using $60/sq.
ft. as a conservative construction estimate = $2.7 million in potential
cost avoidance.
Minimum improvement of 15% in productivity, measured in terms of the
number of operators involved = $497,232 (calculated at a cost per year
for wages and benefits of $19,968, using 24 operators, making $8 per
hour + 30% fringe benefits).
Typical reduction of 80% in work-in-process inventory = $240,000, plus
any associated inventory carrying charges.
Minimum reduction of 50% in scrap, rework, and downtime = $30,000.
Striving to be conservative with the savings notednot including a
potential cost avoidance of $2.7 million or assuming any reduction in indirect labor that normally happensthe savings for the improvements noted
would equate to a sum of $737,262. Applied against a potential annual cost
to implement of $100,000 a year over a three-year period, the ratio of savings to cost would be $2.46 for every dollar expended. Thats a return on
investment that most people would literally jump at making.
The factory example was purely fictional, however, the cost savings
potential is far from that. The reduction percentages outlined have been
proven time and again in factories around the world. In fact they represent a
relatively conservative estimate of the actual improvement potential. Anyway
one chooses to look at it, the money spent on fully implementing Lean will
always show a solid payback on investmentif a proper application of Lean
is applied.

Progressive Kaizen Tool Box


Progressive Kaizen, as pointed out in Figure1.3 (Chapter 1) is one of the
three major components of ALIP (Advanced Lean Implementation Process).
Figure4.1 provides an overview of the tool box utilized for progressive
Kaizen, which starts with four guiding principles: workplace organization,
uninterrupted flow, error-free processing, and insignificant changeover.
Outlined for each drawer of the Component Tool Box shown are the specific
processes or steps involved in achieving an ultimate level of application.
Outside of a conscious focus on the four guiding principles, the other
critical components are discretionary management initiatives, the effective
use of production engineering, business process improvement (which is
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Where to Start and How to Proceed 97

Progressive Kaizen
Component Tool Box
Visual controls
(ANDON)

6-C, 5-S

Workplace organization
Point-of-use
manufacturing

Plant/area re-layout

Uninterrupted flow
Total Productive
Maintenance (TPM)

Poka-Yoke

Error-free processing
SMED
Insignificant changeover
Outside assistance

Waste reduction
incentive [WRAP]

Discretionary management
Lean equipment
engineering

Lean oriented
methods

Production engineering
Office Kaizen

Application of
applied principles

Business process improvement


Direct stocking
approval

Partnering
arrangements

Vendor certification

Figure 4.1 Progressive Kaizen component tool box.

aimed at moving at some point into the office arena with the intention of
significantly improving key business processes and driving the use and benefits of Kaizen down to the individual job level), and finally placing a focus
on vendor certification standards that serve to support and enhance the
process. Each component has been or will be spoken to, but Figure4.1 can
be a helpful reference.
In examining the specific tools involved in more detail, the following
are noted:
Workplace Organization: Applying the guiding principle of workplace
organization to Kaizen-related activity involves utilizing 6-C or 5-S (6-C
being a somewhat more all encompassing version of Toyotas widely
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used 5-S process), along with an extensive application of visual aids


and controls.
Uninterrupted Flow: Applying this guiding principle involves a focus
on point-of-use manufacturing techniques, along with laying out the
area involved anew to bring operations closer together and eliminate as
many stop and storage points in flow as possible. This would include
utilizing the concept of U-cell arrangement, where feasible. At some
point the factory should also be completely rearranged to support
continuous flow and take advantage of the space reductions gained
through ongoing Kaizen activity.
I often use what I refer to as the Swiss cheese phenomenon (see
Figure4.2) to explain how to take premium advantage of space gains
achieved through good Kaizen activity. As the process goes forward, areas
of space will be opened, some of them often small and insignificant on their
own. But any and all space opened as a result of Kaizen should be lined
off and considered to be unusable by anyone, until the accumulation of the
added space can be used to layout the entire factory anew and open a section of the plant for new products and equipment, along with other potential
business opportunities. Ive always told operations that space freed up as a
result of Kaizen should become the property of the plant manager and that
no one should have the right to use it for any purpose until a total factory
rearrangement is made, unless of course the plant manager gives express
permission to do so for an appropriate short-term purpose. This does a
couple of important things:
1. It provides a clear visual example of the importance of Lean: opened
space that employees walk by each and every day and come to understand has a distinct long-term purpose in advancing the business.
2. It shows that the leader of the factory takes a strong personal interest in
Lean and shares a commitment to making it a lasting reality.

Error-Free Processing: Applying this guiding principle involves the effective use of Poka-Yoke and the supporting advantages of TPM on all
equipment and production processing throughout the factory.
Insignificant Changeover: The use of this guiding principle centers on
reducing setup and changeover to the point of setup becoming insignificant to the decision-making process, for such things as taking on
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Where to Start and How to Proceed 99

Factory before re-layout with pockets


of space gained through Kaizen

Factory after re-layout with pockets


of space gained organized for use

Cleared space
for use

Figure 4.2 Factory conversion: The Swiss cheese phenomenon.

added business, new products, and so on, through an expanded and


professional application of SMED.
Discretionary Management Initiatives: These involve supportive management decisions that enhance and promote the implementation of
Lean and make the tasks involved with Kaizen less complicated to
implement. It involves such things as incorporating a WRAP incentive
(or bonus) for individual job improvements and calling in a qualified
consultant for special training or assistance, along with special projectbased improvements such as investing capital in new or revised equipment in keeping with good Lean practices.
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Production Engineering: Concerns making the best use of the companys production engineering function, which means utilizing their
expertise in a highly advanced application of Poka-Yoke, SMED, TPM,
and methods and work measurement (standard work) in order to
ensure equipment meets good supportive Lean standards. The standards would include:
Achieving minimal setup and changeover on all equipment
Building in devices that catch defects due to material, the incorrect
orientation of parts and components, and so on
The creation of efficient, lowest-cost operating procedures through
sound methods analysis and work measurement practices
Business Process Improvement: Involves taking Kaizen into the office
arena and focusing on reducing redundancy, standardizing work, and
improving the overall efficiency of those performing office duties. In
doing this, a prime focus is again placed on the four guiding principles
that apply as readily to business functions as production operations on
the shop floor.
Vendor Certification: Concerns officially certifying select suppliers to
deliver directly to the shop floor, without going through a companys
receiving and inspection function. The certified supplier comes to have
direct stocking approval, which in most cases involves a partnering
arrangement favorable to both the supplier and the company, in terms
of pricing, volume, and delivery.
All of these elements of progressive Kaizen must be addressed and utilized for the process to work to the best advantage of the company and
serve to make Kaizen a truly formidable competitive weapon.

Advantages of Labeling Kaizen Activity Waste Reduction


The word Kaizen is a foreign term in the United States and is often
less than easily understood by the average American worker. Even after
training some are not sure how to fully align themselves with the task
prescribed.
Tell a group of average American workers you want them to perform
Kaizen and assurance is granted that many will not relate to the task, even
after some exposure to the process. But tell them instead you want to engage
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them in an activity associated with waste reduction and they will immediately relate to the mission. They may not fully understand the particular
wastes the exercise is aimed at eliminating until theyve been given proper
training, but they will clearly understand the meaning of the task involved.
It is helpful to remain mindful that Kaizen is the tool used as an accepted
process to make change and perform continuous improvement activities.
However, in the mind of the average American worker the word doesnt easily translate to the actual task without a good deal of explanation. That task,
of course, is waste reduction.
In most Lean initiatives an effort is made to create the understanding that
Kaizen means continuous improvement. Although that is true in the sense
of a broad translation, it simply doesnt carry the impact for most workers
that waste reduction activity does, nor does the word itself serve to inspire
a conscious focus on the job that all employees should hold in assisting the
company to become more competitive. However, couple the words waste
and reduction with activity and process and you have Waste Reduction
Activity Process (or WRAP) which serves to adequately describe what the
effort is actually aimed at accomplishing: wrapping the implementation
of Lean in an active and ongoing waste reduction effort, aimed at making
sound continuous improvement.

RELATED EXPERIENCE: An interpreter in Germany proceeded to point


out to me during a Kaizen event I was conducting that I was confusing everyone with all the Japanese terms and went on to say, In
speaking for the interpreters, if I were you, Id stick to English so the
words can be translated in a manner everyone can easily understand.
If Poka-Yoke means mistake proofing, just say mistake proofing and
leave it at that. It was obvious the interpreters were principally concerned with having to translate a somewhat confusing mix of Japanese,
English, and German for a subject with which they were totally unfamiliar. On the other hand, the thought remained with me as I went
about writing my first book some years later, Fast Track to Waste-Free
Manufacturing. In that work I made a conscious effort to speak to the
four guiding principles involved in English terms; for example, using
Error-Free Processing rather than identifying the entire process of
mistake proofing as Poka-Yoke. The same held true for Insignificant

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Changeover, which utilizes SMED as a primary tool, along with


Workplace Organization (through the use of 5-S, 6-C, and Andon)
and Uninterrupted Flow (utilizing One Piece Flow and Point-of-Use
Manufacturing techniques.)
Later, as I went into consulting work, I experimented with the importance
of taking this step by asking participants at various Kaizen events to help
perform an exercise. I began by writing down the words Poka-Yoke,
SMED, 5-S, and Andon on a flip chart and then proceeded to ask what
those words meant to the audience. The response was a mix of considerable confusion, even from those whod had some previous exposure to
the terms. I then wrote the words Insignificant Changeover along with
the other three principles of waste-free manufacturing on a flip chart and
asked for the same response. It was dramatically evident that the audience much more quickly associated with the terms and came to more
easily understand their relationship to the job at hand. I made the practice afterwards to always identify the tasks involved in the terms of the
principles noted and then moved from there to explain which tools of the
Toyota Production System were used to make the appropriate change. On
more than one occasion, the participants commented it made the overall
process much easier to relate to and to understand.
The job of making a broad sweeping change in the way a factory goes
about performing the mechanics of production is tough enough in itself.
Therefore, keeping things in terms the average worker can easily comprehend could be much more important than it might first appear. Its far easier
to start with a process defined in English and reference where the appropriate tools of TPS apply. No less formal credit is given to the particular tool
involved with this fashion of definition than the other way around.
While firms that have started a Lean initiative might be reluctant to
extend an effort at changing any reference of Kaizen to waste reduction; this
is an area where they shouldnt apply a deaf ear. Adopting the practice of
using waste reduction as a watchword can be done without making a formal
announcement of an intention to do so. Simply begin using the term as frequently as possible and gradually allow it to become what everyone eventually perceives the process to be.
Tell an employee his help is appreciated in advancing Kaizen and in all
probability hell see it as nothing all that significant. On the other hand,
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Where to Start and How to Proceed 103

most employees take a great deal of pride in being recognized for eliminating wasteful practices. This is because most have been taught from childhood to avoid being wasteful. With respect to the overall job to be done this
could be considered a small thing, but in the scheme of making accomplishments in the fastest and smoothest manner possible, centering the focus on
waste reduction activity can make a noted difference in the mind-set and
active support of employees.

Value of Putting the First Pull Zone in Final Assembly


I was once asked what single thing a company could do that would serve to
get everyones attention regarding the task at hand. My response was make
the entire final assembly portion of the factory a mandated pull zone and
ensure theres strict compliance.
A plants first mandated pull zone should carry two distinct purposes: the
first is to train the workforce and provide hands-on experience in the concept: the second purpose is to do something that strongly encourages (or
essentially drives) the advancement of Lean.
In many cases the decision regarding where to start a Lean initiative
on the shop floor is based on where its felt the least amount of disruption to normal production will occur. This is understandable to a degree.
However, an important factor that should be considered, above everything
else, is where a viable pull zone cannot only be implemented, but will
stand as the leading example of where the factory is headed in the future.
With this in mind, one or more production lines in a plants final assembly
area become the ideal place to start. There is an important reason why.
Final assembly is the spot where the greatest amount of the work performed in a factory is funneled. As a result this area typically becomes a
gathering place for most of the parts and components produced in a factory
and therefore an ideal spot to ensure that unless it is called for, nothing is
received. Doing this builds the understanding that no matter how various
production areas in the factory may be producing what they deliver, they are
only allowed to send it to final assembly in the quantities specified by the
user. Until it is eventually called for, the remaining inventory becomes the
producers job to manage.
Very few factories take such a step, largely to avoid having to deal with
precisely what to do with the excess inventory involved. Where would it
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104 Progressive Kaizen

be stored? Who would be responsible for overseeing it? Where would the
added space required be obtained? But imagine, if you will, the influence
this could have on directing everyones attention to Lean and in helping to
change the production mind-set of produce and push inventory down the
line. Under the push scenario, once inventory is out of sight, it essentially
becomes someone elses problem to deal with and out of mind.
After a plants first pull zone has been established for a given final
assembly line, the next objective should be to see the approach is fully
incorporated throughout final assembly, as a whole. Implementing a strictly
adhered-to pull zone essentially forces the supply chain to work at reducing
excessive inventory, where it can.
This one action alone raises the attention level on Lean and often motivates supervisors to personally approach the Lean coordinator and ask for
assistance in how they can lower the inventory level theyre carrying. But
regardless of whether this indeed comes about, in most cases it would
not be long before supervisors of a plants feeder areas would be much
more open-minded and enthusiastic about getting the principles of Lean
Manufacturing applied to their particular area of responsibility.
This type of change obviously should not be incorporated before some
appropriate communications are conducted; which could go (in part) something similar to the following.
Were here to discuss the need to change our general approach and
overall technique to production. Most of you have heard and seen,
through various meetings and written communications, that we are
pursuing a Lean Manufacturing initiative for the factory. This obviously wont happen overnight and will require the support of each
and every employee. But in order to take this important step, one
of our four major assembly lines has been selected as the plants
first pull zone. What this means is that parts and components can
only be sent to this particular line in the quantities specified by the
user. The remaining inventory will have to be stored in the areas
where its produced until its eventually called for. For a time, this
will undoubtedly place an added level of work and responsibility
on various areas of the factory. But it is important we do this and
we wont back away from doing everything necessary to make it a
full success. As time goes by we will extend the approach to other
assembly lines and work to implement the kind of change that will
make it easier for every production area to meet this requirement.
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Where to Start and How to Proceed 105

Going about this properly would not only meet the first objective noted
for the plants first pull zone, but also the second, which is to strongly
encourage and essentially drive needed change through the entire factory.
Unfortunately, I have seen repeated cases where a Lean coordinator stood
ready to perform Kaizen and aggressively work at advancing Lean, but found
it extremely difficult to find managers and supervisors who were keenly
interested in pursuing Lean in their areas of responsibility. In fact, in most
cases the complete reverse was true.
Up until most manufacturing managers and production supervisors have
a pressing need to do so, they will generally strive to avoid the challenge
of a formal Kaizen event. This is understandable considering they are still
being measured from the standpoint of how well they comply with the rules
of the existing system of production. But given they are essentially forced to
deal with a mandate for nothing to be sent to a specified area or department
unless it is specifically called for, attitudes will start to change dramatically.
Making final assembly the first fully mandated pull zone for the factory
will undoubtedly create some confusion and frustration, but in the end it
can serve to place a growing level of attention on fully implementing Lean
Manufacturing as fast as possible throughout the entire facility.
RELATED EXPERIENCE: I once proposed to a plant manager I was consulting with that he should have a pull zone concept established for the
entire final assembly area; which consisted of three large, highly paced
assembly lines. His reaction was how could he possibly go about doing
that without laying the appropriate groundwork in the backup areas, in
other words, without first applying Lean to all the feeder areas of the factory. My response was, Thats easy. Just do it. I went on to explain that
although it could initially create some confusion and possibly some frustrations; it was the best thing he could do in order to get and keep everyones attention on the task facing the operation; and went further to say I
would give him any help and assistance he needed in making it happen.
He simply couldnt bring himself to include the entire final assembly
area, but agreed to try it on one of the lines. He proceeded to communicate the need to those involved and began the practice. True to form,
there were questions as to what to do with the added inventory various
areas were required to deal with and hold.

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106 Progressive Kaizen

He was struggling with a solution when I pointed out to him that


the plant had 12-foot (wide) aisles throughout the entire facility; and
although this gave a nice appearance, 8-foot aisles were perfectly acceptable for conveyance purposes. A simple 4-foot stripe was added inside
the outer marker of the existing aisles and became the place where
excess inventory was stored until it was needed. Many area supervisors
didnt like the arrangement for appearance purposes, but any excuse
regarding the lack of a place to store the excess inventory involved was
eliminated. The plant manager went on to emphasize to anyone who
chose to complain, I dont like it either, but its something we have to
do for the time being. My advice is for you to get with Joe (the assigned
Lean coordinator) and be one of the first to do something about it.
The plant manager turned out to be one of the best manufacturing
leaders Ive ever worked with and it probably goes without being said
that the factory went on to make some outstanding accomplishments.

Sticking to the Plan and Avoiding Disruptions


Any plan is only as good as the will to see it through. There will be distractions with any Kaizen process that draws resources away from advancing Lean and implementing the kind of change needed. I have seen
repeated instances where an extensive amount of work was done in a factory in order to establish a showcase area designed to represent where the
factory intended to go with Lean Manufacturing and little was done afterwards to actually make that the case. There are many reasons why disruptions to the implementation of Lean occur. But a few of the more common
distractions involve:
1. A failure to fully understand the importance of seeing the change as
being absolutely vital to the overall success of the operation
2. Other priorities and initiatives that direct attention away from the task
3. Changes in general management or the reporting and organizational
structure
As it happens, the last distraction is one of the more prevalent reasons a
Lean initiative sometimes stalls or in some cases is completely abandoned.
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Where to Start and How to Proceed 107

During my career in manufacturing, something that became extremely


noticeable was the tendency for change in plant leadership. It seems to happen every two to three years on average. If it didnt occur at a plant manager level, it occurred in other senior leadership positions.
New leadership always brings new thoughts and most often new direction, among other influences that can sometimes inadvertently or otherwise stall a Lean Manufacturing effort. The best way to guard against this
is to have a formal documented strategy for Lean, including a master plan
for Kaizen, along with a structure for the process that promotes appropriate audit and follow-up procedures. Doing this avoids having to rely on
someone to serve as the individual guardian of change. The latter method
can work given the individual in charge of the effort is someone who stays
around long enough to see it through. But what is better is a process that
serves to guard against stalls in implementation, through the power and
influence of a well-established structure for change.
Having this in place aids in selling the importance to new management
by indicating to them theres a well-structured plan established, along with
evidence that progress is being made. Unfortunately, no amount of proof
will make a difference if new management doesnt hold an appreciation for
Lean or at least a willingness to hear someone out and make a sound judgment based on the information provided. Regardless, the more a manufacturing facility can make Lean a standard way of conducting business, just as
with meeting production schedules, achieving budgeted forecasts, and the
like, the better overall chance there is of it carrying the influence needed to
survive disruptions that can distract from the ultimate goal.

Conducting the Factorys First High-Impact Kaizen Event


A factorys first High-Impact Kaizen event will in most cases set the stage
for precisely where an operation is headed in making change for the better.
It therefore requires a good deal of forethought as to precisely what area of
the factory will be the recipient of such change and who the participants for
the event will be.
The purpose of a High-Impact event is to make sweeping change to an
area of the factory that incorporates as many aspects of Lean Manufacturing
principles as possible during the exercise. The length of such an event can
and will vary, but would normally be one to two weeks in duration, with
approximately one half of the time spent on intensive training in Lean. The
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number of participants would range from 25 to 30, most of whom should be


mid- to high-level managers, along with a select group of hourly and salaried contributors. Those who should definitely be considered as full-time
participants are
1. The production manager
2. Two to three key production supervisors, including the supervisor over
the selected area
3. At least one representative from the companys maintenance function
4. Three to four key hourly production associates
5. The production engineering manager and a majority of the production
engineering staff
6. Two to three salaried employees from functions normally detached from
production work
7. At least one representative from the labor union, should one exist

Basic Event Objectives


There are a number of goals that should be explained and established for
the event on the front end. These include, at a minimum:
Improvement in floor space required of 20 to 30%
Reduction in standard work-in-process inventory levels of 70 to 90%
Improvement in productivity (measured in total number of operators) of
10 to 15%
Improvement in measured quality indices of 30 to 50%
These will normally be perceived by the group involved as being next to
impossible to achieve, but they will quickly come to see that it indeed can.
A high level of focus should be placed on these objectives and as change
proceeds, the group should be asked to report on how things are progressing against the assigned goals of the event.

Participation of the Production Manager


Under no circumstances should a plants first high-impact Kaizen event be
conducted without the production manager serving as a full-time participant.
This doesnt mean he has to take a temporary leave of absence from normal
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Where to Start and How to Proceed 109

activities during the course of the event, but it does mean he has to play a
very active role and be personally involved in the overall change formulated
and conducted. The production managers participation has to be extended
without being dictatorial about what change will or will not occur. A word
of advice that should be given production managers is for them to allow the
process to work as intended, which will require them to avoid pushing preconceived notions on the participating team.
RELATED EXPERIENCE: In a high-impact event I was conducting for
a manufacturing firm, it quickly became apparent that the production
manager was intent on placing more emphasis on protecting the status
quo than making change for the better. I approached the plant manager
and passed on my observation, noting there were two ways we could
approach the matter. The first was for him to speak with the individual
and in his own way convince him of the need for an open mind and his
personal encouragement of the thoughts and ideas of others. The other
approach was to allow me to speak with the production manager and
see if I could somehow sway his thinking, without it having to go as far
as the plant manager intervening. We collectively decided on the latter
and I proceeded to pull the production manager aside for a friendly cup
of coffee. Once the conversation was underway it went like this.
Fred, you have a very forceful personality and thats a plus for the job
you hold, I began. But if were not careful, it can also be a hindrance
to what were trying to achieve.
What are you driving at? he asked, appearing to be bit perplexed.
You have a great deal of knowledge related to whats going on in the
factory. But along with that comes a tendency to quickly deflate the
ideas of those who have less overall experience. If this continues, it
wont be long before things get to the point where the only idea that
matters is what you think is best.
He smiled and remarked, So whats wrong with that?
Im going to be perfectly frank and Id ask that you dont take what
Im going to say the wrong way, I replied. My job is to strive to get

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the best out of the event and demonstrate the considerable advantages of Lean. Whether you believe thats the right direction to go or
not, its good to remember you didnt personally choose the method
of production youre currently in charge of managing. You simply
came to work under its influence and you certainly carry no obligation to defend it.
He leaned back and thought for a moment before responding. So
youre asking me to just sit back and allow them to pursue things that
arent going to work.
Not at all, I responded. Im simply asking you to place some reluctance on quickly deflating the ideas of others. Thats it. I can assure you
the process isnt going to allow something that doesnt work to the full
advantage of the company. But youll have to trust me on that. Nothing
is going to be done without your full awareness and input. But we need
a free flow of ideas in keeping with the principles outlined if were
going to make the event a success. Just give it a chance to work and see
what happens.
Although it was difficult for him, the production manager went on to
make a sincere effort to avoid downplaying the ideas of others. He
would slip in the effort occasionally, but one could see him catch himself and back away before it became a hindrance. In the end he came
to agree with most of the changes the group outlined and provided the
support needed to see that they were implemented as fully as possible.
Although I cant say he became a strong proponent of Lean, I witnessed
enough to say he wisely decided against being viewed as a roadblock
to the effort.
For those who desire a full and effective transition to Lean, the production manager would ideally beor come to bea strong proponent of
Lean. Unfortunately many production managers come from the old school.
They grew up under a batch manufacturing environment and some find
it difficult to support any serious challenge to that technique. But most of
them can and will adapt if management makes it absolutely clear the position holds a specific obligation to making Lean a full success and that nothing short of that is deemed acceptable.
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

Where to Start and How to Proceed 111

Participation of Shop Floor Supervisors


A high-impact Kaizen event is an opportunity to take two to three key shop
floor supervisors and provide them with extensive training in the principles
and techniques of Lean Manufacturing. One of the supervisors who should
definitely be selected is the person in charge of the area where change is
going to be made. But spreading the depth of knowledge gained in a highimpact event to other areas of production leadership is just as important.
Due to the expense and the time involved, high-impact events are not something conducted on a highly frequent basis. It is therefore to the distinct
advantage of a company to spread as much of the experience as possible to
a companys shop floor supervisors.

Participation of a Key Maintenance Representative


It is extremely important to have at least one key representative from the
maintenance function as a full-time participant in the companys first highimpact Kaizen event. Ideally this would be the maintenance manager or
supervisor, although it isnt always practical for this to happen. The representative, however, serves as the teams direct interface with maintenance
and in aligning when and how changes proposed by the team are carried
out to full completion during the scope of the event.
With regard to the issue of the full completion of work during the event
itself, its important to mention what the basic goals and measurements of
success should be:
It should be made clear to the group on the front end that the only
thing it can take credit for is what is fully implemented over the course
of the event itself. Anything left undone or incomplete is credited to
those who follow up later and make change accordingly.
Establishing a sense of urgency is of paramount importance to any
Kaizen event, but that is especially so in a high-impact event. Its a time
when all the appropriate decision makers are brought together as a
team and when there is little excuse for not moving forward in a highly
aggressive fashion. But any change made doesnt have to be perfect.
Perfecting change, as closely as possible, should be the goal of sustaining Kaizen activity. As an example, most high-impact Kaizen events
focus on establishing numerous visual aids and controls. To begin these
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

112 Progressive Kaizen

can be something as simple as a piece of whiteboard with words or


instructions printed by hand. These can always be enhanced through
further sustaining Kaizen activity, for as a Japanese group of consultants once highlighted to everyone, Crude and quick is better than
slow and fancy.
In reality, the only thing that counts is what the group is able to achieve
during the event itself, which avoids its turning into a lengthy exercise on a
wish-list of items for the future, which serves to accomplish little.
What complicates matters somewhat is the fact that no one knows for
certain what the actual changes will be until the first week of the event is
well underway. In addition there is often the need to make corrections to
various changes made, as the event proceeds. It is good to remember that
the event is a learning process and corrections that serve to further enhance
a production process are sometimes necessary. This leaves the need for a
maintenance function that is highly flexible and extremely supportive during
the event.

Participation of Key Production Associates


In order to make a high-impact Kaizen event a full success, three to four key
production associates from the area selected to be revised are crucial. But
there are a number of factors that should be taken into consideration regarding the participation of production workers:
The changes made should in no way be viewed as something forced
on production workers without an appropriate level of input from
those who end up inheriting the outcome. Some of the very best
change happens when the production workers involved with living
with the change clearly feel it was of their own making. In addition,
it is usually something they typically take a great deal of pride in
accomplishing.
An effort should be made to select production employees who have a
broad level of experience, such as those fitting a lead-man or relief
classification, who carry expertise in almost every job in the department. Far too often companies go in the opposite direction, selecting
employees who carry little overall expertise and just as important the
respect of fellow workers.
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

Where to Start and How to Proceed 113

Participation of the Production Engineering Manager and Staff


Most manufacturing operations of any size have a production engineering staff. Smaller operations tend to have one or more production engineers reporting to someone, such as the production manager. In the case
where a production engineering manager position exists, the assigned
individual should be a full-time participant in a companys first highimpact Kaizen event, along with as many of the production engineering staff as possible. Under the best circumstances, a large majority of
the production engineering staff would participate in the companys first
high-impact event, with the exception of what is needed to keep the factory operating normally. A good goal is to strive to have at least 50% of
the PE staff free to attend, which can be done in most cases with proper
planning.
High-impact events can be conducted while at the same time maintaining the support needed to meet established production schedules if certain
aspects of the event are properly addressed on the front end and communicated accordingly. A couple of pointers regarding this follow:
During the first week of a high-impact Kaizen event (normally two
weeks in duration) time is spent training participants and readying
them to make significant change on the shop floor over the course of
the upcoming weekend. The start time for the first week should be one
hour after the shift begins, with wrap-up one hour prior to shift end.
This provides six hours of training each day for the participants, along
with two hours (one hour on both the front and back end of the day) to
address normal business activities.
During the second week the participating team is turned loose to
make the planned changes and should be expected to spend full time
in the course of accomplishing the outlined change. The participants
therefore essentially have to be excused from sustaining responsibilities for the entire second week, unless an absolute emergency arises.
Even if an emergency does arise, great care should be taken in pulling
participants out of the event. But if deemed absolutely critical to do
so, every effort should be made to see that they return to the team as
quickly as possible.
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

114 Progressive Kaizen

Participation of Salaried Employees Detached from Production


The long-term goal again is to train the entire workforce, which includes
salaried employees who are detached from the day-to-day business of running production. This applies to clerical and support personnel assigned to
various office functions. Planning on having at least two or three employees from functions such as accounting, human resources, and the like at
the plants first high-impact event is important in spreading knowledge and
encouraging future participation in the process in the office functions. In
addition, such individuals often bring many fresh ideas to the table that otherwise would not be given consideration.

Participation of Local Union Officials


Should a labor union exist, every effort should be made to obtain their
participation at some level during a high-impact event. Ideally, one or more
of the union officials or a direct representative would participate. However,
if for any number of reasons the union is reluctant to do so, they should be
invited to attend the daily wrap-up sessions, where the change and pending
results are discussed. Most union officials would agree to this and, in fact,
would likely be pleasantly surprised they were asked. There is absolutely
nothing in a Kaizen event that should be objectionable from a contractual
standpoint, inasmuch as the change involved is structured to make a shop
floor employees job far easier and far less complicated.
If an event is run properly, the union will normally come away in support
of the changes made. This in turn establishes the opportunity to enhance
union/management relations and gain the support of the union in making
Lean a full reality. In the case where an extremely hardened relationship
exists between management and the union, a high-impact event provides
the opportunity to make a positive step behind which both parties can rally.
The biggest issue to overcome is providing assurance that operators who
may be displaced as a result of the event, will not be laid off, which calls for
a special series of comments:
Defining Displaced Operators: What displaced means in this particular situation is discovering through the use of Kaizen that a particular
job can be done with fewer operators. Those removed from the production process as a result are considered displaced. There are two specific
issues that companies need to keep in mind.
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

Where to Start and How to Proceed 115

Issue One: The first issue has to do with assuring the workforce that
for a prescribed period of time (six months to a year) no one will be
laid off as a result of Kaizen and the overall implementation of Lean.
If a downturn in business happens to occur, there has to be assurance
the company stands firm behind its promise. In doing so, there has
to be a means established that is capable of clearly showing that any
layoff of personnel is strictly volume related, which in most cases can
be readily done.
Issue Two: The second and more sensitive issue deals with the longterm impact on displaced operators. No company can afford to carry
personnel for an indefinite period thats in excess of what they can
effectively utilize. There comes a time when its necessary to adjust
manpower in accordance. Most unions and hourly labor employees
understand this. And although it is not the most pleasant topic to
discuss, they are generally willing to sit down and seriously address
what is fair and reasonable.
Making Kaizen-Related Workforce Adjustments: Once a company has
clearly shown its intention of maintaining an acceptable labor pool made
up of displaced operators, a layoff pertaining to the size of that pool may
at some point be required. The company should make it clear on the
front end that once a year it will perform an evaluation and make necessary adjustments in manpower pertaining to the established Kaizen labor
pool. This doesnt negate the fact that some employees may end up being
laid off as a direct result of a Lean initiative, but it clearly indicates that
manpower reductions are not the principal purpose behind the effort. In
most cases if a Lean initiative is structured and run properly, the chance
of added business circumventing such an adjustment is reasonably good,
although it isnt something that can be absolutely guaranteed. An additional factor that can aid in reducing the overall impact, however, is
common attrition, which would allow operators in the Kaizen labor pool
facing potential layoff to be absorbed in the standard labor pool.
Being Fair, Just, and Forthright: The answer to the sensitivity of this
issue is for the company to be forthright about its intentions and fair
in dealing with displaced operators. However, should a company hold
workforce reduction as one of its principal goals, all bets are off the
table. Management taking this stance should remember what they are
effectively saying to the workforce is: We want you to assist us in
implementing Lean so we can reduce manpower and improve profits.
To that I could only ask how those delivering such a message would
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

116 Progressive Kaizen

feel if they were given the same option. Its safe to say less than confident about the pending success of the venture. Lean Manufacturing, if
done right, requires a unique partnering of management and labor in a
special effort focused on making a company more competitive. There is
no room for shortsighted cost reduction and anything less than a show
of appreciation for the efforts employees extend toward advancing Lean.
The cruel fact is there usually comes a time when adjustments in manpower are absolutely essential. But it should be done in keeping with
something other than simply making a short-term cost reduction.
A Common Flaw in the Use of Displaced Operators: Something very
noticeable when it comes to displaced operators is the lack of effectively
utilizing this important resource. If an agreement has been made to
hold such operators for a prescribed period of time, theyre most often
thrown into a general labor pool and used for relief and absenteeism
purposes. A much better use would be to give this particular resource
to the Lean coordinator, who could use them to assist in making further
improvements throughout the factory or in relieving others to attend a
working Kaizen session.
Creation of Two Separate Labor Pools: A companys general labor pool
should stand on its own merits and ideally would not include operators displaced as a result of Kaizen. Companies need to be more creative
when it comes to Lean and a proper application of assigned resources.
The biggest need is to learn to separate standard layoff issues from those
that arise from activity aimed at making the company more competitive.
In keeping with this, displaced operators should be viewed as an added
resource to further advance that objective. Lean Manufacturing calls for
change and the change encompasses more than just the production arena.
It involves willingness on the part of management to revise policy and
procedure as required, in order to make Lean a full and lasting reality.
As a visual representation of how the two separate labor pools should
work, Figure4.3 provides an overview. On occasion serious needs could
arise in adequately meeting customer-related schedules; and at the request
of the companys production manager a decision could be made by the
Lean coordinator to allow the use of the Kaizen labor pool on a temporary
basis. However, care should taken to ensure this doesnt become the rule,
rather than the exception. This serves to point to the fact that the production manager and the Lean coordinator need to have a good working relationship and remain cognizant of the job that each is striving to achieve.
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

Where to Start and How to Proceed 117

A companys
Kaizen labor
pool

A companys
standard
labor pool

Use

Use

2. Special work orders to


satisfy customer needs

1. Under the direction of the


Lean coordinator assist in
completing changes started
but left incomplete from
previous Kaizen efforts

3. Other productive work at


the discretion of the
production manager

2. Become participants in
new Kaizen events and/or
other Kaizen related activity

1. Replacements for
absenteeism/vacations

3. Assist on occasion in the


general labor pool

Use

Crew
size

Crew
size

Normally
based on
average
absenteeism

Adjustment
frequency:
Typically every
6090 days

Varies
depending on
Kaizen activity

Adjustment
frequency:
Once annually

Figure 4.3 Inclusion of separate Kaizen labor pool.

2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

118 Progressive Kaizen

It should be noted that in making the most effective use of a Kaizen


labor pool, the person displaced from a job doesnt necessarily have to be
the body originally sent to the Kaizen pool. Union labor agreements could
stipulate seniority rules in all displacement situations. However, every effort
should be made to have people in the Kaizen labor pool who display both
the ability and a strong interest in performing Kaizen-related work.

Preparatory, Wrap-Up, and Follow-Up Aspects


of a High-Impact Kaizen Event
Some rather extensive preparatory work is required in advance of a highimpact Kaizen event. This includes everything from getting an agreement on
the participants involved, extending invitations, obtaining and setting up an
adequate training area, making certain that essential maintenance support is
available, and conducting the logistics for things such as breaks, lunch, start
and stop times, and the like. A word of advice is not to underestimate the
extent of the planning involved.
Something every high-impact event should include is a reporting and wrapup session at the end of each day. During the first week this would include all
participants and would normally be conducted the last hour of the normal work
day. In this session the teams report on progress made in establishing goals and
objectives for the work to be performed on the shop floor during the second
week of the event, and with the help of the Lean coordinator and management
in attendance, address any related problems and issues that arise. During the
second week the reporting session is normally held mid to late afternoon and is
approximately no more than 15 to 20 minutes in duration. Here the teams report
against a set of written goals established during week one and address any serious problems or issues that could be hindering progress.
The final wrap-up for a high-impact event is a formal presentation by
the teams to senior management, followed by a plant tour to review results.
Usually included and highly recommended is a word of thanks from the
plant manager and his participation in passing out certificates of completion
to the participants involved.
Very important is adequate follow-up to a high-impact Kaizen event.
There are numerous ways this can be done, but one of the better is for
the plant manager to schedule a biweekly tour of the area, for roughly a
two-month period, that includes all of his or her direct reports, along with
the Lean coordinator. During the tour, the group looks to ensure slippage
hasnt occurred and makes note where further opportunities exist. The tour
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

Where to Start and How to Proceed 119

should also include a walk-through of the general factory and some discussion as to where some immediate improvements, in line with good Lean
Manufacturing practices, come to mind. The whole idea is to ensure Lean is
given appropriate attention recognition and clearly says to the workforce that
management truly cares about Lean.

Basic Structure and Steps Involved in


Conducting a High-Impact Kaizen Event
A constructive high-impact Kaizen event should have a defined structure
to follow in order to get the most out of the effort and provide the kind of
overall training needed. The idea again is to touch on as many key aspects
of Lean as possible in constructing an area in the factory that will serve to
represent where the plant is headed in the future. Figure4.4 outlines the
process involved in conducting a high-impact event, noting where and when
the four guiding principles apply and the sequential steps involved in making change on the shop floor.
The first guiding principle on which the team should focus is workplace
organization, which is the one that should be carried out to the fullest
during the course of the event. The tools involved are 6-C (or 5-S) and a
strong application of Andon (visual controls.) Before the team starts making change, however, a disposition zone is established, where items that
appear questionable (excess inventory; small, easy-to-move equipment;
hand tools; storage cabinets; tables; chairs; and such) are physically removed
from the area and placed for final disposition, which occurs just prior to the
conclusion of the event. Letting the operators involved know that anything
removed is in a safe place and can be retrieved if needed avoids creating
concern and anxiety about things that may initially be considered absolutely
required, but before the event is concluded will likely be understood as
doing little but taking up valuable space.
Ideally, the participating group is broken down into teams that focus efforts
on one of the various guiding principles. Workplace organization and uninterrupted flow will carry the largest number of participants; but certain select
individuals (usually the participating production engineers) are assigned to
address, recommend, gain consensus, and implement a sound application of
SMED, Poka-Yoke, and TPM, on at least one piece of critical equipment in the
area. Therefore, some of the steps noted in Figure4.4 will run in conjunction
with one another. But if any question exists regarding where work should be
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

120 Progressive Kaizen

High-Impact
Kaizen Event

Principles

Applied
tools

Team
focus

Notations

Steps

1.

Workplace
organization

4.

Uninterrupted
flow

7.

10.

Insignificant
changeover

Error-free
processing

5.

8.

11.

Apply tools

Apply tools

6-C (5-S)
ANDON

Kanban U shape
flow point-of-use

Apply tools

Apply tools

SMED

Poka-Yoke

3.

6.

9.

12.

Establish
disposition
area

Experiment
and revise
as needed

Experiment
and revise as
needed

Experiment
and revise
as needed

13.

14.

15.

16.

Make disposition
of items before
event is
concluded

Finalize and
prepare
operating
instructions

Finalize and
prepare
operating
instructions

Finalize and
prepare
operating
instructions

2.

Figure 4.4 High-Impact Kaizen event.

applied, in order to get the best out of the event, the sequential steps outlined
should be followed.
It should be noted that under uninterrupted flow, insignificant changeover,
and error-free processing, the common notation spelled out is, Experiment
and revise as needed. This is meant to point out that participants assigned to
these particular endeavors should not feel bound to getting it absolutely right
the first time. In fact, they seldom will. A reasonable amount of freedom has
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

Where to Start and How to Proceed 121

to be given to doing things over during the course of the event, if theres a
means to substantially improve the changes conducted. This, as mentioned,
calls for maintenance to be fully responsive to doing the same basic kind of
work over again, if called upon. Thus, maintenance personnel have to be
some of the best-trained employees in Lean and appreciative of the fact that
any work they are asked to do in support is far from being wasted effort.

Getting the Most Out of Training


and Implementation Kaizen
A good deal of what was described for a high-impact Kaizen event applies
to Training and Implementation (TI) Kaizen, but on a smaller scale. The
purpose of a TI event is to train a relatively small number of employees
(normally 10 to 15) in the basics of Lean Manufacturing and then to allow
them to apply a portion of what theyd learned on the shop floor. The
duration of the event is typically three days, a third of which is spent on
classroom training and the rest on making change to a select process.
To get the most out of a TI event the selected production process should
involve a line of equipment, a subassembly process, or the like. The application of Kaizen would typically include only one or two of the major tools
involved, such as placing a focus on SMED (Single Minute Exchange of Dies)
or Poka-Yoke (mistake proofing). But in every case, workplace organization
and the 6-Cs should be a substantial part of the change conducted. This is
because workplace organization is the foundation for continuous improvement. The idea isnt to make a full and complete change to the equipment
and processing involved, although this sometimes happens depending on
the participants understanding and ability. The chief purpose is to use the
exercise to allow the participants to see firsthand precisely how change
should be made and the subsequent benefits involved.
Figure4.5 is a window diagram of a typical TI event. The classroom training
starts by providing a basic overview of Just-in-Time (JIT) manufacturing and
exposure to the seven deadly wastes of conventional manufacturing. This is
followed by a one-hour floor exercise that allows participants to explore and
identify such wastes in the area in which they will be making change. Training
is then provided on workplace organization and the principal tools they will be
using (typically SMED, Poka-Yoke, or TPM). In the wrap-up session, the group,
with the help of the Lean coordinator, collectively express to the plant manager
and staff what they have learned and what their plan of action will be.
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

122 Progressive Kaizen

DAY ONE

DAY TWO

DAY THREE

INTRODUCTION

FLOOR WORK MAKING


CHANGE TO THE
SELECTED PRODUCTION
PROCESS

FLOOR WORK
CONTINUES

LUNCH

LUNCH

LUNCH

WORKPLACE
ORGANIZATION

FLOOR WORK
CONTINUES

FLOOR WORK
CONTINUES

WRAP UP:

WRAP UP:

EVENT WRAP UP:

GROUP SHARES ITS


LEARNING WITH
MANAGEMENT AND
SPEAKS TO PLANS FOR
CHANGE

GROUP REPORTS TO
MANAGEMENT THE
CHANGES MADE &
LESSONS LEARNED

GROUP REPORTS
RESULTS & ANY
FOLLOW-UP ACTION
REQDFOLLOWED BY
PLANT TOUR

OVERVIEW OF JIT
MANUFACTURING
THE SEVEN DEADLY
WASTES (HIDDEN
WASTES)
FLOOR EXERCISE:
IDENTIFYING HIDDEN
WASTES

TRAINING IN SPECIFIC
TOOL TO BE UTILIZED
DURING THE EVENT:
SMED, POKA-YOKE,
OTHER

Figure 4.5 TI event window diagram.

The following two days are spent making change on the shop floor,
which may indeed require some overtime by the participants involved. After
lunch on the third day, one or two participants are chosen to work on a presentation of the results achieved, while the remaining participants continue
to work on the shop floor as needed. The last hour of the day is spent on
presenting the accomplishments made, followed by a plant tour to allow a
firsthand look at results.
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Where to Start and How to Proceed 123

Although it is not absolutely essential to reassemble the participants of


a TI event at some point in the future in order to return to the area and
review what further progress has taken place, this has been proven to be a
beneficial step. Doing so serves three purposes:
1. It gives the participants the feeling their work was important enough for
management to allow them the time to regroup, review, and discuss the
changes made, along with where other opportunities exist.
2. The production supervisor over the area should conduct the review,
which leads to the second purpose. That purpose is for the leadership
of the area to remain cognizant that if any slippage occurs they hold the
responsibility of explaining why to the group that so diligently worked
in making the change.
3. The final purpose is to raise the attention level of the general workforce to the fact that not only making change is extremely important,
but keeping it intact and building on it is vital to the long-term success
of the company.
Although some of the event and follow-up activity mentioned may
sound a little unnecessary, companies cannot forget that the type of
massive change required simply cannot be carried out unless actions
are accompanied with a reasonable level of individual recognition and
accountability. Here are some things to consider in accordance with that
objective:
Show strong support and appreciation for those who assume the responsibility to learn, apply, and make appropriate change on the shop floor
and elsewhere, in keeping with good Lean Manufacturing practices.
Consistently highlight such change in the companys newsletter and
through other forms of posted and written communications.
Provide small rewards for those who participate in making appropriate
change. Nothing big. Something as simple as a hot dog and a Coke will
usually suffice.
Consider holding an annual luncheon for employees carrying a Lean
Manufacturing theme. Make it an opportunity for the plant manager and
others to express the importance of the process and provide the time
for an employee or a number of employees who are enthused about the
process to say a few words in support. One could be surprised at those
willing to do so.
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124 Progressive Kaizen

Consider highlighting and referring to the Lean Manufacturing effort


being conducted as the companys new production system. The
Franklin Production System, as an example. This personalizes the process and will typically elevate support and enthusiasm.
What may be coming to light is the fact that successfully implementing
Lean Manufacturing goes much further than making change to production
processes. It also requires changing a general mind-set that has been in place
for years on end. This means correcting habits, changing perceptions and paradigms, and coming to see the business of manufacturing from a totally different perspective. Therefore, business as usual simply wont get the job done.
Training and implementation Kaizen is truly the backbone of a Lean
Manufacturing initiative. It is the primary means of providing the needed
knowledge to employees and carrying out ongoing change throughout the
factory. It therefore deserves proper attention and a game plan that serves to
utilize it to its fullest.

Modifying the Rules for the Purchase of New Equipment


Although a training and implementation Kaizen event is principally aimed at
making the best use of existing equipment and facilities, there are occasions
where the need for a new piece of production equipment becomes clearly
obvious. Procurement of new equipment usually cant be accomplished over
the normal course of a TI event, however, the event itself may be responsible for bringing new equipment aboard at some point. This in turn calls for
some needed rule changes in both equipment design and procurement.
Production equipment comes in two basic forms: the first is equipment
purchased as a stock item ready for use (a standard upright spot welder, for
example), and the other is specially designed equipment to meet a specific
production application. In both cases preprocurement procedures should
include a Lean Manufacturing equipment checklist (see Exhibit 4.1). Every
piece of stock item equipment, of course, will not meet all of the specifications noted on the form. However, the exercise of going over the checklist
with the supplier should still be conducted. In some cases the supplier will
make an effort to modify stock equipment to satisfy the needs spelled out on
the form. On specially designed equipment, however, the supplier should be
fully expected to produce the equipment with the specifications outlined in
mind.
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

Where to Start and How to Proceed 125

Yes

No

1. Fast/easy maintenance built in

____

____

2. Easy to move/relocate

____

____

3. Excellent operating safety features

____

____

4. Requires minimum setup/changeover

____

____

5. Quick hook-up features built in

____

____

6. Low risk of air/hydraulic leaks

____

____

Note: The specific design of this document would include these


items, along with other factors that are in keeping with good
Lean Manufacturing principles and guidelines.

Exhibit 4.1 Example: Lean Manufacturing equipment checklist.

Planned Frequency of Training and Implementation Kaizen Events


The appropriate number of TI events will vary from company to company;
but in larger operations the goal should be to have a minimum of 50% of
the workforce trained the first year. For an operation with 400 employees
(considering the size of the event will typically average 10 to 15 participants) this would mean around 15 events would have to be conducted the
first year, averaging slightly more than one event each month. For smaller
operations (100 employees or less) the goal should be to have all employees
trained the first year, which would mean roughly one event a month until all
employees are covered.
For the manufacturing operation wishing to assume a very aggressive
training schedule, two events per month are typically all that can be scheduled and performed in an adequate manner. That would mean the maximum number of employees trained the first year would be roughly 200.
Thus, for a firm with 400 employees the time span required to train everyone would approach two years in duration. However, there is no need for
dismay. Making a full Lean transition in a large factory thats been driven
for years with a batch mentality will take one to three years, depending on
numerous factors. The important thing is to get started and press forward as
aggressively as possible. Rest assured, however, it will not be two to three
years before a company begins to see the benefits in terms of improved
product quality, reduced operating expenses, greater overall flexibility, and
steadily increasing profit margins.
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126 Progressive Kaizen

Driving the Use of Problem Resolution Kaizen


Problem resolution Kaizen is unquestionably the least effectively used process in the Kaizen tool box. Most often addressing serious production issues
that have an impact on throughput, operating costs, and the like are handled
the old way. An example follows.
Joe, the production supervisor, has a problem with a key piece of
equipment. He calls Fred, the production engineering manager,
for assistance. Joe and Fred end up going to the equipment and
looking the situation over. Fred believes the problem boils down
to the need for a more frequent tool change. Joe in turn contacts
maintenance and the tool change is made. After the tool change
everything appears to be fine so the issue is closed and production continues. When Joe arrives at work the following morning
he finds a huge amount of inventory produced on the equipment
during the second shift, which has to be scrapped or reworked.
He finds himself immediately behind schedule and it becomes
clear the fix didnt fully resolve the problem. In fact, if anything, it
appeared to make it worse. Sound familiar?
The principal reason the problem went unresolved was because no one
went to the trouble of clearly establishing the root cause. As a result this not
only had a negative impact on meeting the schedule, but added waste in the
form of scrap or rework. Getting down to the root cause and deciding on a permanent fix takes a conscious effort to pause long enough to see that it occurs.
Quick fixes commonly end up costing more time, energy, and effort than
forcing ones self to indulge in a process aimed at correcting the problem
permanently. That is the purpose of problem resolution Kaizen. Given this
was used, Joe and Fred would have discovered that although an unscheduled tool change was indeed warranted, the actual root cause was machine
wear on the drive shaft, creating a vibration that served to establish unusual
and excessive tool wear. This in turn would mean that until the machine
could be taken out of production and the drive shaft fully repaired, a revised
schedule involving a more frequent tool change would need to be arranged.
A simple SPC (Statistical Process Control) chart on the equipment would
have alerted the operator that the process was trending out of control, and
would have allowed the operator to shut the equipment down before scrap
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

Where to Start and How to Proceed 127

and rework was produced, however, an SPC chart does not have the ability
to say what was indeed creating the problem. Establishing and correcting
the actual root cause requires an entirely different process.

Applying the Science of 5-W


Getting down to the root cause usually requires some persistent delving
into the issue. A simple straightforward method commonly referred to as the
5-Whys (or 5-W) involves asking why up to five (5) times. The following
example is one to which almost anyone can relate.
Little Johnny comes home with a poor report card in English. His mother
proceeds to sit him down and investigate. The conversation goes something
like this.
Mother: Johnny, why are your grades so poor in English?
Little Johnny: My teacher doesnt like me.
Mother: Why doesnt your teacher like you?
Little Johnny: Cause she likes the kids up front and Karen.
Mother: Whos Karen?
Little Johnny: The girl that sits next to me, in the back.
Mother: But why would she like Karen better?
Little Johnny: Cause Karen can read the blackboard and I cant.
After the third Why it starts to become clear that the problem isnt that
the teacher doesnt like little Johnny. The problem is that Johnny is having
difficulty reading what the teacher writes on the blackboard. After a trip
to the eye doctor, the lad gets a pair of glasses and his grades immediately
begin to improve. Had the mother taken Johnnys first response without
delving deeper she could have ended up making a trip to confront the
teacher on Johnnys premise that she simply didnt like him, embarrassing
herself and delaying a correction to the real problem.
Exhibit 4.2 outlines the benefits that a simple why can have. If its
used in the proper manner wisdom is gained, help is extended in establishing the root cause, and the process commonly yields thoughts and
ideas that can often resolve the issue without going further. The proper
manner of undertaking this approach, of course, is a polite respectful
probing until some meaningful light is shed on the issue. The best way
of approaching someone with the intention of using this technique is to
tell them how the exercise works and what is hoped to be gained. In
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

128 Progressive Kaizen

W = Wisdom is gained.
H = Help is given in establishing root cause.
Y = Yield potentially provides a firm solution.

Exhibit 4.2 The inherent benefits of Why?

most cases they will willingly participate. However, walking up to someone and starting to pummel them repeatedly with Why? will only create
unneeded frustration and can actually end up offending the very person
who potentially has the most to offer.
Most people would wisely do what Johnnys mother did. However, very
smart people often forget to apply the same logic they use in their personal
lives after they walk through the doors of the place theyre employed. Some
of this is due to the perception they should check their brains at the door
and do what theyre told. This is especially true of the average production workers, who frequently gain the feeling that all the company is truly
interested in is their staying at their machines, keeping their mouths shut,
and running production. Although the advent of Lean Manufacturing has
changed that perception somewhat, on average theres still a great deal of
room for improvement.
Driving the use of problem resolution Kaizen typically boils down to
management insisting the root cause must be established and reported on
for any problem elevated to the top. This means the first thing out of a production or plant managers mouth in response to a noted problem should
be, Whats the root cause? This says to subordinates they are free to come
with problems but they hold an obligation to strive to clearly understand
what caused that problem and ideally what can be done to correct it. When
a production problem occurs on a repetitive basis, a truthful answer to the
question may indeed be that no one knows for certain. When this occurs, a
problem resolution Kaizen event is the best way of addressing and permanently resolving the issue.

How to Conduct a Problem Resolution Event


Theres an old saying that two heads are better than one. Leaving the fix
to a repetitive production problem up to a single individual, regardless of
how talented, doesnt negate the fact that if the right people are involved,
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

Where to Start and How to Proceed 129

two minds or more are better than one and will almost always arrive at the
better solution. Although this isnt news to most managers, the sad fact is
this typically doesnt happen. The common approach is to make certain the
problem and others are covered with enough inventoryor enough leeway in the established manufacturing lead-timeto overcome (essentially
hide) the real source of the problem. This doesnt happen because anyone
is averse to fully resolving the problem, but because people are reluctant to
slow the process of business-as-usual in order to do so. The old paradigm,
It isnt my job, needs to be thoroughly erased in manufacturing firms
across America. Addressing serious production problems is everyones job,
especially if they have anything of importance to add and are called upon to
participate.
The best manner of going about conducting a PRK event is to involve the
following personnel as direct participants:
The production engineer responsible for performing sustaining work on
the equipment or production processing involved
One or two of the more knowledgeable operators involved
Someone from the quality assurance function
The supervisor over the area involved
A representative from the maintenance function
If possible, the original equipment manufacturer or equipment supplier
The Lean Manufacturing coordinator should be called on to facilitate the
effort, because he should be the most knowledgeable in the application of
the appropriate tools the group will use in getting down to the root cause
and in assuring that the agreed-upon fix meets good Lean Manufacturing
practices. Figure4.6 is a window diagram of a typical PRK event.
The event starts with an overview by the area supervisor regarding the
problem and the impact it has had on achieving production, along with any
history associated with trying to resolve the problem and how the matter
has generally been handled in the past. The next thing is for the production
engineer to explain as much as possible about equipment and processing
specifications, general maintenance procedures, the established operating
methods, and any personal experiences in striving to address the problem.
This is followed by the Lean coordinator conducting training in Poka-Yoke
or, in the case of the group having had previous exposure to the training,
a short refresher in Poka-Yoke. The group then collectively descends to the
shop floor to observe and record what is actually occurring, noting:
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

130 Progressive Kaizen

DAY ONE

DAY TWO

INTRODUCTION

FURTHER FLOOR WORK TO ESTABLISH


ROOT CAUSE AND PUT A RELIABLE FIX
IN PLACE

PROBLEM I.D. AND DISCUSSION


TRAINING / REFRESHER IN 5-W, POKAYOKE, 4 PRINCIPLES OF WASTE-FREE
MANUFACTURING
FLOOR WORK EXAMINING PROCESS
LUNCH

LUNCH

FLOOR WORK CONTINUES

FLOOR WORK CONTINUES

WRAP-UP SESSION:

WRAP-UP SESSION:

GROUP DISCUSSES FINDINGS AND


PROSPECTS TO RESOLVING ISSUE

GROUP REPORTS TO MANAGEMENT


THE CHANGES MADE AND LESSONS
LEARNED

Figure 4.6 PRK event window diagram.

The methods being used.


Any downtime that might occur.
The general production flow.
The quality control procedures utilized.
How the parts are handled, transferred, and stored.
Any other observations noteworthy in getting down to the root cause.
Note: Out of this will usually come a number of thoughts and ideas as
to how to resolve the problem, but nothing should be taken for granted
at this point.
In conducting the floor exercise someone in the group should perform a
5-W with the operators involved. This often leads to the discovery of things
that may not be apparent at the particular time the group is on the shop floor.
At the end of the day the group reassembles in the meeting room and
shares its findings with general management. From there, a number of
things can happen. It could be that a need arises to bring the original equipment manufacturer or supplier in to work with the production engineer and
maintenance representative, in seeing that the equipment is properly meeting established specifications and otherwise obtain the benefit of their input.
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

Where to Start and How to Proceed 131

Typically, when a serious production problem occurs on a repeated basis,


the odds are high that bringing in the equipment manufacturer or supplier
has already happened. But asking them to join the event on the front end is
the ideal thing to do, if a commitment can be achieved.
The first half of the second day is spent on the shop floor repeating
the exercise performed the day before. Generally, additional things will be
learned and the fix will become apparent. The group reassembles after lunch
and comes to an agreement on a permanent solution to the problem. In
some cases the fix will be simple enough to incorporate before the first day
of the event is concluded. In other situations the fix may be clear, but it could
take time to fully implement. Either way, the event is concluded with a short
presentation to management regarding findings and the fix involved. In the
case of requiring additional time to implement, after the solution is finally
implemented the group reassembles for a short tour, in order to review the
fix and to bring the matter to a conclusion.
With reference to the pie chart in Chapter 2 (Figure2.1), problem resolution Kaizen does not normally equate to a large percentage of the overall
accomplishments made in advancing Lean (roughly 5% of the total). But it is
important to note what will generally come out of the PRK events are some
obvious opportunities for further improvements that are in line with good
Lean Manufacturing practices. Thus, a PRK event can serve more than a
single purpose. It can heighten awareness and become just another vital step
in the right direction.

Essential Tools Utilized in a Problem Resolution Event


Outside of the use of the 5-W, the application of Poka-Yoke is typically called
for. This is especially true if the problem is equipment related. In situations
where the equipment doesnt end up being the culprit, there should still be
an effort made to take advantage of the opportunity and extend a healthy
dose of mistake proofing. In addition, TPM should be evaluated and good
Workplace Organization should be established. The principal task is to resolve
the problem the group assembled to address. But inasmuch as they have been
assembled and are using Kaizen to resolve the matter, as much work as possible should be extended in advancing good Lean Manufacturing practices.
As mentioned in the Introduction, the how-to involved in using and
applying the prescribed tools noted, most of which were derived from the
Toyota Production System, isnt specifically covered herein. However, there
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

132 Progressive Kaizen

are literally hundreds of books and other published works related to the use
of the tools, the techniques involved, and how to go about conducting training in their use. A list considered to be some of the better material available
can be found in Appendix A.

Keeping the Principles of Uninterrupted Flow


and Workplace Organization in Mind
Something that should always be kept in mind when striving to resolve production problems and issues, whether they are quality or throughput related,
is where the application of continuous flow techniques fit. The fewer steps
involved and the least amount of disruption in flow due to storage, inspection,
and other factors, the greater chance errors can be avoided. Figure4.7 points
out the importance of this consideration, using a machine shop example.
When material and components can bypass common receiving and inspection
steps in the processthrough establishing confidence in the supplier with
vendor certification, along with laying out the production processing involved
to avoid common stocking arrangements before and after production and by
making operators responsible for inspectionthe easier it becomes to address
and fully resolve problems and issues. In addition, some superb steps are
Example of time compression using principle of Uninterrupted Flow

Receiving

Inspection

Stock
room

Machine
shop

Stock room

Assembly

Shipping

Number of total steps = 7 Number of interruptions to flow = 4

Receiving

Inspection

Stock
room

Machine
shop

Number of total steps = 2 Number of interruptions to flow = 0

Which factory is more competitive?

Figure 4.7 Example of time compression (Uninterrupted Flow).

2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

Assemble &
ship

Where to Start and How to Proceed 133

made in time compression and improving operational flexibility. The question


at the bottom of Figure4.7 is: Which factory is more competitive? The obvious answer, of course, is the one with the least amount of disruptions in flow.
Along with a focus on uninterrupted flow, the principle of workplace
organization should also be taken into consideration and applied by the
group as time allows. Very often, repetitive production problems boil down
to a simple lack of operator instructions (visual controls), which good workplace organization can most effectively serve to address.

Understanding the Role and Scope of Sustaining Kaizen


Sustaining Kaizen consists of two key components. The first is Kaizen activity carried out at an individual job level. This usually requires the implementation of an incentive, such as that outlined for a WRAP initiative, in order
to strongly encourage employee participation, both on the shop floor and in
the various office functions involved. The second component of Sustaining
Kaizen (SK) is a formal Kaizen event aimed at further enhancing a change
that was made or expanding the scope of an established change to other
areas of the office or factory.
In most cases the participants of an SK event would consist of some
employees involved in making the original change, along with representatives from the area where the change is due to be imposed. The latter participants may or may not have had specific Lean and Kaizen training, which
this particular event is not designed to achieve, outside of a refresher on the
basics for everyone. Therefore, there could be some involved who are asked
to participate on the basis of trust in the process and the merits of the initial
change made.
Figure4.8 provides a visual overview of Sustaining Kaizen. The combination of individual job improvements and formal SK events combine to make
sustained advancements in Lean Manufacturing, which to a large degree is a
never-ending process for a factory.
The fundamental principles of Waste-Free Manufacturing become the
guiding values for every action taken. Again, those principles are workplace
organization, uninterrupted flow, insignificant changeover, and error-free
processing. Participants are asked throughout an SK event where the principles apply to any change being considered. If a suggested change doesnt
clearly fit within the scope of one or more of the four guiding principles,
it is considered suspect and care is taken before it is implemented. In the
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

134 Progressive Kaizen

Individual job
improvements
(WRAP)

Aim

Office and shop


floor processes

Result

Sustaining Kaizen

Guiding
values

Guiding
values

Workplace org.
Uninterrupted flow
Insignificant changeover
Error-free processing

Sustained
advancement of
Lean Manufacturing

Formal Kaizen
activity
(events)

Aim

Office and
shop floor
processes

Result

Figure 4.8 The components of Sustaining Kaizen.

individual job improvement arena, a WRAP initiative is spelled out. Although


this isnt absolutely required, it serves to greatly enhance the process. In fact,
without something similar, the chance of getting this important segment of
sustaining Kaizen off the ground is limited, at best.
The basic role of sustaining Kaizen is to maintain a focus on enhancing
improvements to previous changes made and, to every extent possible, to
make Kaizen a daily activity. The intended scope covers both shop floor and
office processes and the use of sustaining Kaizen involves both formal and
informal Kaizen activity. One of the best ways to define the critical importance of sustaining Kaizen is to view it as the glue that holds the entire
process of Kaizen together. Without it, the very best work with other forms
of Kaizen will tend to erode over time.
Something to keep in mind is the fact that niceties often arise in
Kaizen-related activities. This is especially true in the area of individual job
improvements. For example, someone thinks a new workstation PC with
more features would be nice. However, if it does nothing in advancing
one the four principles the thought should be politely dismissed. Keeping
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

Where to Start and How to Proceed 135

a proper focus on the mission at hand, which is to improve operational efficiency, has to remain at the forefront of all Kaizen-related activity.

Implementing a WRAP Initiative


A thoughtfully established and well-run WRAP initiative can be an extremely
positive influence on getting the absolute most out of Kaizen. In fact, it is
essential in making Kaizen a formidable competitive weapon. The following
address some important things to keep in mind in approaching the task.

When to Start a WRAP Initiative


The general workforce should have exposure to Lean before a WRAP
initiative is undertaken. For companies just starting a Lean effort, WRAP
should not be considered until employee training has been conducted in
the fundamentals of Lean Manufacturing, and some level of Lean-oriented
change has been made on the shop floor. A good guideline for when to
consider a WRAP program would be 8 to 12 months after a Lean initiative
was underway, of course depending on the aggressiveness of workforce
training. Providing the entire workforce with essential training is not only
important to the overall success of Lean Manufacturing, but critical to a
WRAP initiative. However, the planning phase should begin at the earliest
possible date.

Planning Phase Considerations


There are three important considerations to keep in mind. The first has
to do with how a WRAP program will be measured for remuneration. As
previously noted, complicated formulas should be avoided. When establishing incentives of any kind almost every business function wants a piece of
the action, so to speak. Quality assurance may vie for a number of standard
quality measurements to be included in the calculation. Accounting may
want the actual cost of scrap and rework measured against targeted budgets
or forecasts, and the list could go on. These should be avoided, because its
important to keep things simple and straightforward when it comes to an
incentive for making on-the-job improvements through the use of Kaizen.
One of the best ways to decide if a change is qualified for a bonus
is to evaluate it on the basis of the four guiding principles of waste-free
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

136 Progressive Kaizen

manufacturing. If it meets those guidelines it is an acceptable improvement


and no further justification is warranted. There is, however, one exception. If the change requires the purchase of new equipment, tools, and so
on (something that cant be built with common material the maintenance
function carries as stock), the idea is recorded and tabled for further consideration. Once a year, a WRAP board, appointed and headed by the plant
manager, assembles to review any tabled ideas and to make a firm decision
if the expenditure can be justified. If it can, the employee is allowed to take
the idea to a conclusion and once fully accomplished, the bonus is paid.
This leads to the point that WRAP is not a pay-for-an-idea incentive. An
idea is only as good as the employees ability, coupled with the assistance of
the area supervisor, to fully implement. Employees must come to understand
that the chief purpose of Kaizen is to make improvements to the equipment
and facilities on hand. However, anything that can be readily built by maintenance to assist in making an improvement, such as special fixtures and the
like, should be deemed acceptable. There is a bit of a fine line in judgment
required when it comes to special raw materials to accommodate a change.
Good common sense should prevail, thus all the more reason for establishing a well-thought out and management-approved budget for Kaizen on the
front end of a Lean initiative.
The second important planning consideration is what level of compensation will be paid for a successfully applied change. There are obviously a
number of ways to approach this, but a simple option is a flat bonus of $50
for accepted improvements. Regardless of the decision made on the amount
of compensation, a fund should be established for WRAP and included in
the Lean coordinators operating budget. The total annual sum will vary
from factory to factory, depending on numerous factors such as the amount
of bonus paid per improvement, the number of employees (both hourly and
salaried), the level of participation, and so on.
In estimating the initial budget for WRAP, 25 to 30% workforce participation is a reasonable number to use, especially at the offset. I was a party to
putting such a program in place in a factory that had over 800 employees.
During the first full year 27% of the workforce participated with accepted
improvements. Inasmuch as that 27% participation occurred under a rather
aggressive application of Lean, it should be safe to use a factor of 25%
in estimating a factorys initial budget for WRAP. Using this, the formula
would be: Total # of employees [hourly and salaried] .25 bonus paid per
accepted improvement = estimated annual budgeted amount. For a factory
with 600 employees, applying a flat $50 bonus per accepted improvement,
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

Where to Start and How to Proceed 137

the estimated annual budget for WRAP would be: 600 .25 $50 = $7500.
Again, the basic guideline for acceptance would be: Does the change do
anything to enhance workplace organization, uninterrupted flow, insignificant changeover, or error-free processing? If it does, it should be viewed as
an accepted improvement. If it doesnt, it simply doesnt apply.
One last thing to address in the planning phase is the depth and repetitiveness of an accepted change. An issue that will most likely arise is how
great a change warrants a paid bonus. For example, an operator might
suggest to his supervisor that a simple hanging device for an air driver
would enhance workplace organization. The fix would be quick and easy
and the question in someones mind could be, does this warrant the same
level of compensation (applied bonus) as something that has a great deal
more impact on the overall operation. The answer is yes. The value of an
improvement cant always be measured or viewed in terms of strict payback.
It has to be seen as an investment in training employees and changing the
mind-set of the workforce. In most cases, however, improvements will not
fall into this category.
Another question that can arise involves a repetitive improvement. For
example, someone in one area of the factory sees a change made that earns
a bonus and decides to use that as an accepted improvement in his area.
Should a bonus be paid for essentially the same idea generated elsewhere in
the factory? The answer is no. The first employee coming up with the idea is
the only one rewarded, regardless of when, where, and to what extent that
improvement is later used somewhere else in the factory.
A WRAP initiative is aimed at not only generating ideas for improvements at an individual job level, but recognizing and rewarding those who
are creative and take it upon themselves to step forward in making change
for the better. Unfortunately, there will be some in the workforce who never
meet the established standard for an accepted improvement. This doesnt
necessarily mean they are inept or disinterested. What it does mean, is that
the supervisor has to accept the challenge of providing them the personal
time and attention they may need to become proficient at making change for
the better in their jobs. As expressed earlier, the role of the supervisor has to
change from being purely directional (demanding) in nature, to being more
inspirational (motivational) in practice. And it is additionally why shop floor
supervisors should carry some reasonably heavily weighted objectives aimed
at bringing the workforce along.
A man I very highly admired once told me that any kind of special incentive aimed at urging employees to do something they should be doing
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

138 Progressive Kaizen

anyway set the wrong precedence. I wholeheartedly agree, with one exception. The wastes we have in conventional manufacturing have come about
because management decided to train employees in a specific way of doing
business. With a Lean Manufacturing initiative we are essentially saying
to them to forget what they were taught in the past and do their job in an
entirely different manner. We further complicate the issue by asking them
to work inside the parameters of the old system of production, while such
an effort is underway; and last but not least, were suddenly asking them for
ideas after years of leaving the impression the only thing we were interested
in was for them to stay busy. Rewarding employees with a reasonably decent
incentive for good ideas that serves to advance the full implementation of
Lean is the least we can do in working ourselves out of the muck and mire
of conventional manufacturing practices, which are there because industry
chose a wasteful system of production.

Typical Hurdles to Clear


The single biggest hurdle to clear in getting a WRAP initiative underway has
to do with proven payback on investment. Typical cost justification measurements will simply come up lacking. There has to be a serious conviction for
the type of change needed and many ideas for on-the-job improvements will
not immediately show a return based on common justification standards.
Addressing this hurdle is where the F alliance noted in Chapter 2
(Figure2.2) comes into play. The plant manager has to carry a reasonable
amount of faith in the process and must help to clear this hurdle by insisting, if for no other reason, the budget and expenditures for a WRAP initiative should be a discretionary fund that can be used to enhance overall
plant operations. The financial obligation would be to strive to live within
the assigned discretionary budget. Where the need arises for added funding, as a result of increased participation by the workforce, justification
should be based on an overview of the changes being made and the overall
impact they have had on such things as inventory, space reductions, manufacturing lead-time improvements and such, which arent always easy to
measure under typical cost justification standards, but that are certainly the
proper thing to do.
Another potential hurdle is ensuring that each and every employee has a
level starting field before a WRAP initiative is put into effect. This means the
company has to take on both the obligation and expense of providing adequate training in the basics of Kaizen and Lean Manufacturing for each and
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

Where to Start and How to Proceed 139

every employee. This can be one of the more sizable costs associated with
implementing Lean, but as noted the payback in terms of improvements
made while the training is being conducted can be substantial. Depending
on the size of the workforce, this training obligation could take a year (or
slightly more) in the making. A word of caution, however, is not to shortcut
the training with a four-hour overview of Lean Manufacturing or something
similar. Employees not only need classroom training, but the chance to
apply that training on the shop floor, which is precisely what a Training and
Implementation Kaizen event is structured to do.

Summary Overview of the Process


Figure4.9 provides a visual of the rollout of a WRAP initiative. It starts
with phase #1 planning and is followed with phase #2 employee training
(which is the longest task in duration) and finally a phase #3 communication and rollout phase, which are separate tasks but overlap to some degree.
Figure4.10 indicates the twofold objective of WRAP (coupling individual job
improvement and the full insertion of Lean Manufacturing) and the keys to
each individual objective outlined.

Communicating and Tracking Results


The matter of communicating and tracking results cannot be overemphasized. Keeping the attention at a maximum level is essential to success. The
standard obligations of meeting production schedules, addressing problems
that arise, and achieving established budgets and forecasts can seriously distract from a Lean/Kaizen initiative. Keeping a watchful eye on communications and overall results not only keeps the attention level of the workforce
where it needs to be, but by nature of the activity itself helps to keep management focused on the mission.
A standard monthly company newsletter is certainly a good means of
communicating and tracking the results of a Lean initiative, along with
encouraging participation. But this should be reinforced with at least two
biannual communication sessions by the plant manager, aimed exclusively at
discussing the value of Lean, the progress that has been made, and the job
yet to be done. Nothing carries more weight and influence. But some other
communication and tracking opportunities are:
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

140 Progressive Kaizen

WRAP
introduction
timeframe

#1
#3
Planning
phase

Rollout
phase

Communication
phase

#2
Employee
training
phase
Employee
training
phase

Employee
training
phase
Employee
training
phase

Figure 4.9 WRAP introduction timeframe.

Hold an annual Lean Manufacturing banquet aimed at celebrating


overall accomplishments and recognizing those who have made individual contributions.
Use the local news media (newspaper, radio, or television) to communicate the effort being conducted and the kind of results being
achieved. Most local news media take an interest in featuring an article
or an interview on how a company is striving to remain competitive in
todays world, if they are asked.
Keeping a Lean Board in an area of the factory that most employees
visit, such as in or just outside the company cafeteria or break area. The
purpose of the board is to indicate established goals and objectives,
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

Where to Start and How to Proceed 141

Twofold
objective
WRAP
-Waste Reduction Activity Process -

-Well-trained
supervisors
-Bonus for
improvements
-Reinforcement
communications

Keys

Individual job
improvement

-Well-adapted Lean
coordinator
-4 Guiding principles of
WFM
-4 Various types of
Kaizen
-Reinforcement
communications

Keys

Fully implementing
Lean Manufacturing

Figure 4.10 Twofold objectives of WRAP.

along with results and accomplishments, and various words of wisdom to encourage and motivate participation.
These are only a few of the numerous ways to work at communicating
and tracking the progress of a Lean initiative. The point is to strive to keep
the attention level as high as possible at all times. Its important to remember
the task of Lean implementation is massive in nature and will not be accomplished if it is in any way felt by the workforce that it plays second fiddle to
something else the plant is doing.
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142 Progressive Kaizen

Training First-Line Supervisors


If there is one area where the least effective effort has been made when it
comes to Lean, it boils down to the training typically given first-line floor
supervisors. This happens because normal production schedules have to
be achieved while a Lean Manufacturing effort is underway. Key hourly
employees are regularly excused to attend Kaizen events, however, the
supervisor most often remains in the production area to ensure things are
accomplished in their absence. This is understandable, but points to the
fact that a special training effort needs to be extended exclusively to shop
floor supervisors, who in essence are first-line management in the eyes of
employees.
The best method of achieving this is a three-phase training approach.
The first phase is Lean awareness training, which ideally is conducted prior
to introducing Lean to a factory. This involves a one-day training session
that can be conducted on the weekend if needed. Here the advantages of
Lean are fully explained and the supervisors are given the chance to work
as a team in identifying The Hidden Wastes (see my book, Fast Track
to Waste-Free Manufacturing for more detail on the hidden wastes) in a
selected area of the factory, which doesnt have to occur while production
is underway, but serves to clearly point out inefficiencies with the existing
system of production.
The second phase of supervisor training should be conducted directly
after the plants first high-impact Kaizen event. Here, the supervisors are
brought together again (which can also be arranged for a weekend if
needed) and an overview of the high-impact event is provided for their
review, including an extensive tour of the area involved. In closing, the
plant manager (or at least, the plant production manager) should reinforce
the review by informing the supervisors that it is the intention of management to spread the same kind of change through the entire factory and
that their support in the effort is not only expected but anticipated.
The third phase of the training is to strive to have supervisors cover for
each other so over a period of time each and every shop floor supervisor
can attend and participate in at least one formal Kaizen event.

Key Summary Points


The overall scope of Kaizen activity:
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

Where to Start and How to Proceed 143

Utilizing Kaizen to its fullest encompasses more than a single-minded


process. It is instead a series of established activities that have different
purposes and lead to different results, all of which are aimed at fully
and effectively inserting the principles of Lean throughout an entire
business enterprise (see Progressive Kaizen Tool Box).
How WRAP fits the picture:
In most Lean initiatives an effort is made to create the understanding that Kaizen means continuous improvement. Although that is
true in the sense of a broad translation, it simply doesnt carry the
inspirational impact of waste reduction. Couple this with activity and process and you have Waste Reduction Activity Process
(WRAP) which clearly serves to address what the effort is aimed at
accomplishing, wrapping the implementation of Lean in an active
and ongoing waste reduction effort, aimed at making sound continuous improvement (see Advantages of Labeling Kaizen Activity Waste
Reduction).
A factorys first pull zone:
An important factor that should be considered above anything else is
where a viable pull-production process cannot only be implemented,
but will stand as the leading example of where the factory is headed in
the future. With this in mind, one or more lines in a plants final assembly area become the most ideal spot to start (see The Value of Putting
the First Pull Zone in Final Assembly).
A factorys first high-impact event:
A factorys first high-impact Kaizen event will in most cases set the
stage for precisely where an operation is headed in making change
for the better. It therefore requires a good deal of forethought as to
precisely what area of the factory will be the recipient of such change
and who the participants for such an event will be. The duration of the
event varies from one to two weeks, depending on the area involved
and the depth of penetration set forth for the event (see Conducting
the Factorys First High-Impact Kaizen Event).
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144 Progressive Kaizen

The issue of problem resolution:


Quick fixes commonly end up costing more time, energy, and effort
than forcing ones self to indulge in a process aimed at correcting the
problem once and for all. That is the expressed purpose of problem
resolution Kaizen (see Driving the Use of Problem Resolution Kaizen).
What a WRAP initiative is and isnt:
A WRAP initiative is not a pay-for-an-idea incentive. An idea is only
as good as the employees ability (coupled with the assistance of the
area supervisor) to fully implement it. There will additionally be occasions where an idea is good but requires the expense of new equipment. Employees must come to understand one of the chief purposes
of Kaizen is to make improvements to the equipment and facilities on
hand (see Implementing a WRAP Initiative).

2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

Chapter 5

Other Key Facets of Getting


the Most Out of Kaizen
The purpose of this chapter is to address a number of items that havent
been fully covered, but which can aid tremendously in enhancing a
Progressive Kaizen effort and the full implementation of Lean Manufacturing.

Advancing the Role of Owner-Operator


to Lean Equipment Specialist
In Chapter 2 the need for the consideration of owner-operators was
addressed. The topic is something Ive never failed to cover in any of my
previous writings because it can be one of the most helpful steps an operation can take in keeping its equipment and production processing running
effectively, especially key production equipment. However, experience has
taught if the role of the owner-operator is expanded to include an ongoing
focus on good Lean Manufacturing principles as a daily function of the job,
even further progress can be made. Ive come to refer to this elevation of
duties as the Lean Equipment (LE) specialist.
It is important to note there are basically three types of production
equipment found in almost every manufacturing operation. Class I, which
involves equipment and machines that are essentially shelf items which
are purchased, installed, and utilized with no modification (a basic upright
spot welder, a standard lathe, etc.). Class II equipment involves the same
type outlined for Class I but consists of machines that have been modified
somewhat to meet specific processing requirements. Class III equipment is
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145

146 Progressive Kaizen

uniquely designed machines, typically built from the ground up, and essentially one of a kind. Some Class II and all Class III equipment generically fit
the category of key equipment.
Key equipment is just that; equipment key to making and delivering
the product a factory was designed to produce. Although it isnt something
most businesses would desire to do, the work performed on standard shelfitem equipment could be outsourced if the need arose. That simply isnt
the case with some Class II and most all Class III production equipment.
These essentially become the lifeline of the business and if and when they
fail to operate as intendedor fail to operate at alla business is in serious
jeopardy. That is why a special focus placed on engineering key production
equipment to support a Lean effort has been outlined as being critical to
implementation. But if done right, the effort fits a twofold purpose: to have
equipment that supports the principles of Lean and to provide added assurance that equipment is always capable of running (producing), when and as
production requirements call for them.
The role of the LE specialist is designed to fit both of these needs.
Establishing the role begins with required training under the classification of
an LE apprentice, and it is only after displaying the full ability to do the job
that he or she is elevated to the position of a LE specialist. To expound on
the classification, the following areas of address are covered:



1. Where LE specialists should be considered


2. The basic pay structure for such a classification
3. The percentage of the workforce that should hold the classification
4. The specific training involved for elevation to a LE specialist

Where LE Specialists Should Be Considered


Again, every manufacturing operation has key production equipment,
whether it is recognized as such or not. In the form of definition, the term
key applies to equipment that is highly specialized, very often complex in
nature, and usually engineered to perform a unique production task. In most
manufacturing operations typically about 25% or less of all factory production
equipment would fit the category, but there are situations where a higher percentage applies. Outside of the type of things most companies do in assuring
the uptime capability of their equipment, such as the application of TPM, the
need exists to provide an added level of equipment dependability where possible. One manner of supporting this is through the use of LE specialists.
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Other Key Facets of Getting the Most Out of Kaizen 147

A Lean equipment specialist is an employee who has proven expertise in


operating the equipment involved and has been given the added responsibility
for assuring the quality of the parts produced, along with general maintenance
and equipment upkeep. In one respect they can be viewed somewhat like a
first sergeant in the Army. Although they are not the commander in charge of
the unit, when it comes to action on the field they assume an unquestionable
authority. The LE specialist effectively owns the performance of the equipment
and holds an above-average responsibility to ensure what comes off that equipment fits the need of the next user in the process. Along with good component
quality and machine upkeep, they understand and accept responsibility for:
1. Ensuring they are producing to the next users requirements, in terms
of both the quantity of parts produced and any special part orientation requirements, related to the stacking and transfer of parts before
they are released for delivery. The LE specialist personally determines
what such arrangements should be by speaking with the supervisor of
the receiving department or production zone, as well as the operators
involved. They then proceed to pass the information on to the sustaining engineer so it can be included in formal routing sheets and other
processing documentation.
2. Making appropriate disposition of parts deemed unacceptable. Although
this would be a rare to nonexistent occurrence under good operating
procedures and especially where mistake proofing has been applied,
Lean equipment specialists understand the job classification carries the
obligation to ensure nothing but fully acceptable parts are delivered to
the next user in the chain. If for some reason this isnt the case, they
hold the responsibility of personally applying themselves to correcting
the situation.
3. Understanding good Lean principles and applying those where opportunities exist, by passing on suggestions to the shop floor supervisor or the
assigned production engineer for the area and in some cases simply taking
it upon themselves to make the improvement without direct assistance.

Pay Structure for a Lean Equipment Specialist Classification


The pay grade of LE specialists will vary depending on numerous factors.
However, it should be at least equal to the highest-paid direct labor position
currently held in the factory. In many cases, the leading direct labor pay
grade would be a group leader. Group leaders typically possess the skill
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148 Progressive Kaizen

and experience to perform any of the operations in a specified area, along


with holding the responsibility for training new operators and conducting
fill-in duties in someones absence. But regardless of which classification
holds the honor of the highest pay grade, the LE specialist should be considered as having achieved the ultimate level of accomplishment on the factory
floor. In accordance, the pay grade for the position should be reflective of
that, because the LE specialist would be fully qualified to:
Set up and change over the equipment as needed.
Use any related quality assurance instruments and make certain they
remain officially certified.
Read and assess blueprints as needed.
Perform on-the-job preventive maintenance.
Understand the equipment specifications, limits, and so on.
Recognize the advent of developing problems and take corrective action.
Hold and utilize skills in SMED, Poka-Yoke, TPM, and workplace
organization.

Percentage of Workforce Holding the Classification


The percentage of the workforce holding the classification of LE specialist should be reflective of the amount of equipment classified as key. This
requires a conscious effort by the company to identify clearly any equipment
that meets the criteria for key. To provide an example, assume a factory has
110 employees and 75 different pieces of production equipment. Out of that 75,
twenty pieces of equipment have been identified as key. The ratio of LE specialists in this particular case would be 18% of the workforce. (20/110 = 18%).
A word of caution applies, however. When a LE specialist ends up being
equal to the highest-paid direct labor classification in the factory, experience has
shown there will often be efforts extended to somehow make other operations
fit that description. Its an easy trap to fall into and the entire pay structure for
direct labor work can be negatively affected if appropriate care isnt taken.
A lengthy explanation about the difference between direct and indirect
labor classifications probably isnt warranted, however, a brief description
of the difference is that direct labor classifications involve work directly
associated with building and assembling the products sold to the customer.
Indirect labor classifications involve work for such things as material handling, inspection, and setup, which are non-value-added and should ideally
be targeted for extinction under a good Lean Manufacturing effort.
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Other Key Facets of Getting the Most Out of Kaizen 149

Lean Equipment Apprentice Training


The training aspects for those selected for an apprentice role are covered in
Figure5.1. The training involved is normally a three-day exercise. To begin,
potential LE apprentices are given basic training in Lean and the four guiding principles. This is followed by instructions in print reading and a more
detailed level of training in TPM. The second day begins with an overview
of the Hidden Wastes (built around Toyotas Seven Deadly Wastes) followed by a factory floor exercise aimed at identifying such wastes in a select
area of the factory. Due to the importance of the subject, TPM is revisited
and special training is given in SMED. The last day starts with training in
Poka-Yoke, followed by a classroom exercise exploring where opportunities
for SMED and Poka-Yoke exist on the assigned equipment involved.
The afternoon session of the third day begins with a review of the entire
training and the participants are given time to take notes, ask questions, and
DAY ONE

DAY TWO

DAY THREE

INTRODUCTION

EXPLORING THE HIDDEN


WASTES

POKA-YOKE

LEAN MANUFACTURING
AND THE FOUR
GUIDING PRINCIPLES:

FLOOR EXERCISE:
IDENTIFYING THE
HIDDEN WASTES

CLASSROOM EXERCISE:
OPPORTUNITIES FOR
POKA-YOKE AND SMED
ON EQUIPMENT
UTILIZED

LUNCH

LUNCH

LUNCH

PRINT READING

TPM REVISITED

STUDY PERIOD FOR


FINAL EXAM

TPM

SMED

FINAL EXAM

WRAP-UP

WRAP-UP

WRAP-UP

WORKPLACE ORG.
UNINTERRUPTED
FLOW
INSIGNIFICANT
CHANGEOVER
ERROR-FREE
PROCESSING

Figure 5.1 Owner-operator training window diagram.

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150 Progressive Kaizen

study for a final exam. The exam is given late in the afternoon and the training is wrapped up. The participants are informed of the results of the exam in
a one-on-one meeting with the instructor the following day. Participants who
pass the exam are given a certificate of completion and awarded the classification of LE apprentice. If a participant fails the exam (which is rare) but wishes
to give it another try, he is rescheduled to take the training at the next available
session. If the participant fails the exam a second time, however, he is disqualified from further pursuit of the position for a period of up to 12 months.
Certified LE apprentices are given a three-month period of observation by
the Lean/Kaizen coordinator, along with an assigned task in keeping with
the training received, which can vary greatly from one piece of equipment
to another. But the end result should be an easily identified improvement
involving SMED, Poka-Yoke, workplace organization, and the like. After
completion of the trial period noted, along with the successful accomplishment of the assigned task, the operator is reclassified as an LE specialist and
given an increase in base wage.
Its important to note that the operators involved are not rewarded with
an increase in pay by simply applying and taking training to become LE
specialists. They have to extend the personal effort required to show their
ability before they are officially reclassified and awarded an increase. They
additionally have to go through a refresher course once a year.
RELATED EXPERIENCE: The factory where I had my first opportunity
at leading a Lean implementation effort became a huge learning experience for both me and those who so energetically worked at making
it happen. We unquestionably made mistakes along the way, but in
the end a remarkable shift was made in the manufacturing practices
utilized.
Approximately six months into the effort, I was approached one morning by the production manager, Jim Wainwright, who told me hed like
to consider establishing a special labor classification for a select group
of operators who had taken it upon themselves to do something special
in support of the type of change we were trying to incorporate.
My first reaction wasnt totally in favor of the idea, feeling it gave the
appearance of providing special rewards for the type of activity we
were striving to drive through the entire rank and file as a standard part
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Other Key Facets of Getting the Most Out of Kaizen 151

of doing the job. But Jim convinced me it was a case of more than that.
Not willing to give up easily, he asked if I would accompany him to a
key piece of equipment we had on one of our primary assembly lines.
As we approached the machine, which had long been a source of nagging downtime problems, I recall remarking, Going to see Old Faithful,
huh?
The machine had the function of producing a component subassembly,
by automatically feeding parts into a large carousel, where they were
positioned, coupled, and joined before being fed onto the main line.
The machine had long been the source of persistent downtime problems due to lubricating oil and grime forming inside the carousel and
affecting the correct orientation of parts, along with the joining process
itself. Best described, it was a persistent nightmare, born out of an engineering effort to reduce direct labor requirements.
When we finally arrived Jim asked the operator to show me what hed
done. The operator proceeded to open the carousel and what I saw left
me literally astonished. The inside was absolutely spotless! Jim went
on to point out the operator had taken it upon himself to have maintenance install a simple air line that blew the overflow of lubricating oil
away from the connecting mechanism into a special designed circular
pan, that could be removed and emptied as needed. Jim said the operator had also taken it upon himself to personally clean the inside of the
carousel twice daily, at the beginning and end of each shift, noting that
since starting the practice the machine hadnt been down even once.
It became easy to see the point Jim was striving to make and the experience became the catalyst for our establishing an owner-operator classification. After a number of years in consulting, I saw an advantage
to expanding the role to be further in keeping with advancing Lean,
and went on to develop an outline for a LE specialist classification that
applied to those who were not only proficient at running key factory
equipment and who held the necessary skills required to perform preventive maintenance and other equipment sustaining duties, but also
held the knowledge inherent to advancing good Lean Manufacturing
practices.

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152 Progressive Kaizen

Small things can sometimes make a big difference, things which production engineers and others might fail to notice. These usually come to light
when experienced operators are properly trained and motivated to pursue
ways of enhancing the job they perform. Operators on key equipment have
to understand that eliminating downtime, scrap, and rework, among other
wastes, is seen as being just as important as keeping the machine in good
operating condition. But such an understanding doesnt always come naturally. Operators have to be trained to look for opportunities and this is especially true of the Lean equipment specialist.

Conducting an Annual Structured Lean Audit


One of the best ways of ensuring an appropriate level of attention is paid
to the implementation of Lean is an annual structured audit. Performing
this encompasses every aspect of the process from training the workforce,
to implemented changes on the shop floor, along with the overall progress
achieved against an established and approved master plan for Kaizen.
The team selected to perform the audit should be headed by the Lean
coordinator and include representatives from every major support function.
Out of the audit should come a recognized winner for the area of the factory
that has made the most influential impact in the overall application of Lean.
At the conclusion of the audit, a formal report should be prepared by the
Lean coordinator and presented to the plant manager, along with posting a
summary of the audit for everyone in the factory to see and review.
There are numerous ways for constructing a worksheet for the audit, which
should be left to the discretion of the Lean coordinator, but should include:
A measure of activities against the assigned plan for Kaizen
A measure of costs against the assigned budget for Kaizen
A measure of the effectiveness of the maintenance functions participation (help and assistance) in Kaizen-related activity
To perform the audit in the best manner, the participants of the auditing
group would normally be broken into two teams: one for the factory floor
and the other for the office area. During the audit, every prescribed functional area would be audited. This means areas such as receiving/inspection
and shipping, as well as the areas where production work is performed. It
should also include office functions.
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Other Key Facets of Getting the Most Out of Kaizen 153

There are three basic things the area supervisors and department managers are asked during the audit:
1. What Kaizen activity has been performed over the last 12 months?
2. Who was involved in that activity?
3. What specific improvements were made?
The area supervisor or department manager is then asked to show the
auditing group the improvements made. Lastly, an effort is made to determine
the cost involved and to make note if anything was considered and tabled due
to cost restrictions, or the perception that the cost for the effort would simply be too great to absorb. There is a special reason for this. Even under the
most conscientious efforts in support of Lean, managers and supervisors can
sometimes convince themselves that the cost of an improvement simply cant
be justified. Spelling such things out in the audit report allows management
the chance to evaluate and decide if the delay was truly warranted or whether
instructions should be given to proceed with the change to completion.

Sharing the Results of the Audit with the Workforce


Just as important as performing a structured audit is to share the results with
the workforce. This can be done in a number of ways, but one of the best
times to hold a general communication session with the entire workforce is
after an annual audit of Lean has been conducted. Doing so says that the
implementation of Lean is important enough to bring everyone together to
speak about results, along with any course correction that may be required
and the need for continuing support from everyone in advancing Lean.
At this communication session, a selected winner for the most influential
impact with Lean should be announced and duly recognized.
The criteria for establishing the winner should center on the three basic
areas addressed during the audit, which again is what Kaizen activity was
conducted, who was involved, and what specific improvements were made.
In most cases, the winner will be easy to define. However, if there is any
question regarding one area versus another, cowinners should be selected
and recognized accordingly.
An annual Lean audit is also a good time for the senior management
team to assemble after the audit has been conducted, in order to address
progress and any changes or revisions that should be made to the master
plan and timetable for overall implementation.
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

154 Progressive Kaizen

Exhibit 5.1 Electronic final assembly Andon board.

Building in Essential Visual Controls


The subject of visual controls calls for a special word, inasmuch as this is
both basic and essential to any good Lean Manufacturing effort. A visual
control can be something as simple as pointing out the need to stop and
look before entering a high-traffic zone, to something as complex as the
example shown in Exhibit 5.1.
In this particular example, each established workstation on a series of
final assembly lines is shown on an overhead electronic board, strategically located for visibility. If a workstation light is off, it indicates the station
isnt being used for the particular product being assembled. A green light is
activated by the supervisor for each workstation being used once a production run is under way. If the operator has something that needs attention
he pushes the yellow button on a small console, indicating help is needed.
If the operator should be required to stop production because of a quality
issue, for example, he pushes the red button on the console, which indicates the line is down and that immediate assistance is required. The yellow
caution light can be used for any number of reasons, including the need
for special direction or assistance, the potential of running out of needed
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Other Key Facets of Getting the Most Out of Kaizen 155

material, and so forth. But a red light is only activated in the case of completely stopping a workstation, which is turn shuts the entire assembly line
down until the problem is addressed and resolved.
With a quick glance what can be seen in Exhibit 5.1 is that Line #3 is utilizing 10 of 30 workstations for the product being assembled and that all the
required stations are up and running. Station B/M 31, however, is displaying
a yellow light which indicates production hasnt stopped but help is needed.
For Line #4, 7 work stations are being utilized for the product being assembled. Station B/M 44 is displaying a yellow light, indicating help is needed.
But station B/M46 is displaying a red light, indicating the line is stopped and
will remain so until the problem can be resolved.
Most visual controls (Andon) are typically far simpler and less complex;
such as shown in Exhibit 5.2. The important thing initially is to get visual
controls in place as quickly as possible and set aside any worry about how
professional they may look. They can always be dressed up at a later date,
through sustaining Kaizen activity.
The goal, of course, is to strive to keep manufacturing running like a
highly tuned, well-oiled machine, and good visual controls are essential in
striving to meet that objective. But a word of caution should be extended.
Never begin the insertion of visual controls unless there is a solid commitment
to keep them fully intact and updated as required. Doing so requires assigning
responsibility for both the development and upkeep of visual controls, along
with appropriate follow-up and audit procedures to assure compliance.
Simple Visual Controls

White tape to mark off boundaries.

Red bins = Questionable parts

Exhibit 5.2 Example of simple visual controls.

2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

156 Progressive Kaizen

Constructing a Master Kaizen Plan


Getting the best out of Kaizen and striving to make it a formidable competitive weapon consists of thoughtfully planning its use and the overall path of
implementation. Figure1.1 outlined in Chapter 1 can be extremely helpful in
designing a master Kaizen plan. But regardless, the following items should
be addressed and preferably constructed in the plan in the order provided:
1. Initial Lean awareness training for all managers, supervisors, and production engineers.
2. Special (extensive) training for the production engineering function in
SMED, standard work, Poka-Yoke, and TPM.
3. Inclusion of an effort to determine which equipment fits a key production equipment definition.
4. Selection of the area of the factory where the plants first high-impact
Kaizen event will center efforts. The objective of this event should be
to establish an area that incorporates most of the aspects of a fully
inserted Lean approach to production. In most cases a complete rearrangement of equipment will be necessary in order to effectively demonstrate how Lean should work and function. Visual controls should
abound and one-piece flow and pull-production techniques should be
applied, along with other actions, such as performing at least one setup
reduction (SMED) and mistake-proofing (Poka-Yoke) project. This in
turn means a very flexible and responsive maintenance support effort is
required during the event.
5. A progressive series of steps involving the use of training and implementation Kaizen events, in order to expose the entire workforce to Lean
Manufacturing over a specified period of time (ideally no more than a
12-month period) and to begin the implementation of Lean practices
on the shop floor. After the completion of item 5, the next area of focus
for the plan should be to apply what is outlined for items 4 and 5 to the
office arena. During the process of performing analysis of items 4, 5, and
6, the plan should ideally include production engineering working simultaneously to Lean engineer the plants key production equipment.
6. The introduction of a formal WRAP initiative, followed by a series of
progressive steps involving the use of sustaining Kaizen activity and
problem resolution Kaizen to further enhance progress and keep a
continuing effort going in making a full and complete shift to Lean
Manufacturing.
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Other Key Facets of Getting the Most Out of Kaizen 157

7. At this point in the plan, another high-impact Kaizen event should be


considered, centering on making a complete new layout of the plant, in
order to take advantage of the space reductions gained and to further
enhance pull-production techniques and Lean practices.
Other considerations for the plan should include:
1. A vendor certification process
2. Where applicable, the use of a Lean consultant to assist with certain
aspects of implementation, where it is clearly obvious special training or
expertise is warranted in order to successfully carry out the plan
3. Deciding specifically where Kanban should be applied

Vendor Certification
The intent of what follows is not to provide a complete and all encompassing overview of a vendor certification program. That would require a book
unto itself. The objective is to point out various things that should be considered in the pursuit of vendor certification, which relate to getting the best
out of Kaizen and aggressively advancing a Lean initiative.
Typical vendor certification involves such things as building an understanding and agreement on the type of delivery required, the expected
quality of the goods received, the class of ISO certification, any subcontracting of the services involved, and so on. Most important to a Lean
initiative, however, is for the vendor to reach and maintain a quality status
where parts can be delivered directly to the point of use, in the exact
quantities specified. In most cases this will not happen with initial certification practices and requires a special effort on the part of both the
customer and the supplier.
Once achieved, it would serve to establish the vendor as a class C
Lean supplier (or some similar form of defined recognition for the effort
involved). But in order to achieve the supreme vendor classification (class
A) the supplier would have to demonstrate that they have endorsed and
implemented Lean Manufacturing techniques in their factory and must
follow this by demonstrating results in the form of a freeze on prices for
a fixed period of time and/or a significant improvement in delivery lead
time. In turn, the customer usually promises to assist the vendor with
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158 Progressive Kaizen

training and with certain aspects of Lean implementation. All in all this
serves to establish a partnering arrangement that can benefit both parties
over the course of time.
Very important to this matter is deciding how far various stipulations for
the Lean ratings involved should go and the precise commitment the company is willing to make, with respect to a long-term purchasing agreement.
It is a somewhat delicate balancing act, inasmuch as tomorrow can always
bring a completely new vendor on the scene that offers as much or more
than stipulated, for less cost.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s Toyota set out not only to establish special requirements for vendor certification in support of Lean, but it went so
far as to provide land for select suppliers to build factories or supply depots
in close proximity to Toyotas main operation. Long-term purchasing agreements with select suppliers proved to benefit both parties initially, but later
sometimes worked to a disadvantage when new and more advanced suppliers, operationally, came on the scene. Toyota still follows the practice, but
has taken general vendor certification to a much higher level and requires
all its suppliers meet quality and delivery standards that fully support the
Toyota Production System. Anything less, regardless of price, simply isnt
deemed acceptable.
Vendor certification procedures should include three basic stipulations,
for any and all suppliers interested in a long-term continuing relationship:
1. That the supplier will diligently work to incorporate Lean
Manufacturing practices
2. That the supplier will match, at a minimum, the price of any other
viable (proven and acceptable) vendor who may surface later
3. That the supplier willingly takes full responsibility to correct
any delivery or quality-related issues that may arise, at their own
expense
In turn the company would agree to a fixed level of volume, which
should not surpass 60% of a companys total sales volume, unless a very
conscious decision is made to do so. Tying ones long-term contractual
obligations to 100% of sales volume leaves absolutely no room to maneuver
should a vendor with a better price and delivery capability emerge, which
even under the best of partnering arrangements can happen.
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Other Key Facets of Getting the Most Out of Kaizen 159

Ten Commandments of a Fully Supportive


Maintenance Function
Maintenance is the single support function in a factory that holds the power
to make or break a Lean initiative. Therefore, making certain the maintenance function is both fully capable and properly aligned is absolutely
critical to a good Lean Manufacturing effort and especially one that strongly
utilizes Kaizen as the tool for advancing the process.
There are ten commandments that apply to a highly supportive Leanoriented maintenance function:
1. Maintenance shall report directly to the Lean/Kaizen coordinator.
2. Maintenance shall energetically work to support any and all Kaizen
efforts conducted, both formal and informal in nature.
3. Maintenance shall carry an appropriate amount of stock on hand for
items typically constructed during Kaizen activity, including material to
build special fixtures, transfer racks, Andon devices, shadowboards, and
the like, and will be highly reactive to such requests when called upon.
4. Maintenance shall have a representative at each formal Kaizen event
and be prepared to make equipment rearrangements and provide other
needed maintenance support, at the participating teams direction.
5. Maintenance shall be one of the best trained departments in Lean
Manufacturing techniques and shall keep such practices in mind with
any work they perform.
6. Maintenance shall lead the incorporation of TPM, keeping appropriate
records and seeing a full and complete application is applied throughout the facility.
7. Maintenance shall have no words of despair regarding Lean.
8. Maintenance shall know where to quickly obtain outside support in
conducting special equipment rearrangements or facility modifications, as
needed.
9. Maintenance shall never be critical of ideas submitted by a participating
Kaizen team in support of Lean implementation.
10. Maintenance shall apply good Lean practices to the maintenance function itself.
Two typical concerns that have been voiced when Ive brought up the
ten commandments noted to various manufacturing firms is a feeling that (1)
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

160 Progressive Kaizen

having maintenance report directly to the Lean coordinator and (2) ensuring maintenance is one of the best-trained functions in Lean, could serve to
lessen attention on the more typical aspects of maintenance (general facilities upkeep and the like). This simply isnt the case. When a serious condition develops that needs the attention of maintenance, everything takes a
backseat to keeping the plant up and running, including Kaizen activity.
On the other hand, as more and more work is done in response to a good
Lean/Kaizen initiative, fewer and fewer emergencies that require immediate
maintenance will tend to develop. Its all a matter of applying good common
sense to the effort. However, without clearly aligning maintenance to actively
assist in making Lean a full reality, the odds of satisfactory progress are slim,
at best.
There are typically cases where the maintenance function has the need
for an increase in staff in order to fully support a good Lean effort. This
shouldnt be significant, but could include adding one or two additional
maintenance employees for a period of time (a year to eighteen months).

Briefly Addressing the Cost and Payback of Lean Again


As pointed out earlier, fully incorporating Lean doesnt come without a reasonably substantial cost. This involves such things as hiring a full-time Lean/
Kaizen coordinator, assigning a potential assistant to the coordinator, requiring a possible increase in the production engineering and maintenance
staffs, along with a substantially increased level of employee training. But
the price paid can have an excellent payback if done correctly.
A company should not be sold on hype that Lean is essentially free,
except for some minor equipment rearrangement, painting some new lines
on the floor, and doing some basic workplace organization along with some
decent housekeeping. That, in reality, is nothing more than window dressing
and buys a firm little in the overall scheme of establishing and maintaining a
solid competitive position for the future.
Fully incorporating Lean requires a willingness to spend the time, energy,
and (where needed) the money to make it happen. But theres an extremely
positive side of the equation. Under a soundly constructed and aggressively
run progressive Kaizen approach, the payback will start to become clearly
evident after a few months, when on-hand inventory levels begin to fall
drastically, along with scrap and rework costs and other common wastes
that have plagued an operation for years. In addition, it will start to become
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

Other Key Facets of Getting the Most Out of Kaizen 161

extremely apparent that manufacturing lead-time can be reduced and that


overall product quality has improved.
There will also be signs that space is being cleared, which at some point
can be used to rearrange factory equipment and production processing in
order to make room for additional products or added business. There will
additionally be evidence of an increase in the flexibility of the operation and
the overall efficiency of operators, leading in turn to substantial productivity improvements, reductions in downtime, and a steadily declining amount
of indirect labor required. Within 12 to 18 months, the payback can start to
be measured in terms of multiple thousands of dollars (if not hundreds of
thousands of dollars and possibly more).

Ten Most Important Factors to Keep in Mind


The step charts outlined in Chapter 2 and further illustrated in Figure2.4
provide a roadmap for implementing Lean from start to finish, the finish,
of course, related to having changed the system of production and laid the
proper foundation for continuous improvement, which is never-ending.
Many factories in the United States, however, arent at the point of starting from scratch. They are at various stages of implementation. The step
charts therefore have to be used in adjusting strategy and tactics in order to
achieve a full and effective change to the system of production.
Figures5.2 and 5.3 provide a first and second phase illustration of the
10 most important factors to keep in mind, regardless of a factorys starting
point with Lean.

Phase One: Setting the Stage


FACTOR ONE: Learning to Trust the Process
Something that cant be overlooked as extremely important is coming to
fully trust the process. Its a certainty that there will be ups and downs,
times when outside pressures serve to distract from a focus on Lean and
when various conditions appear to tie an operations hands in advancing the
process. Although these have to be addressed and resolved as they arise, the
ultimate leader in charge (most often the plant manager) has to ensure they
do not become serious stumbling blocks to the full implementation of Lean
and the use of an enhanced Kaizen process as the primary tool in making it
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

162 Progressive Kaizen

First Phase for Making


Kaizen All it Can Be

1. Trust the process

5. Conduct 1st
high-impact
Kaizen event

3. Plan for ALIP

Path

2. Hire and reorganize


as needed

4. Apply strong
communications

Figure 5.2 First phase of 10-step roadmap.

Second Phase to Making Kaizen All it Can Be

10. Apply continuous improvement


6. Train production
workforce

8. Implement
WRAP

Path

7. Drive Kaizen
into office
processes

Figure 5.3 Second phase of 10-step roadmap.

2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

9. Apply
vendor
certification
standards

Other Key Facets of Getting the Most Out of Kaizen 163

happen, he or she has to have a solid trust in the process and a determination to see it through to completion.
One of the best ways of building trust and confidence is to seek out and
visit a factory that has taken Lean as close as possible to the ultimate level
of accomplishment. What one will always find is an extreme level of pride
in the achievements made and more often than not a very strong interest in
showing others the accomplishments that have served to make a significant
difference. In addition to helping build confidence in the process, there will
always be good ideas to take back to the factory and pursue, which can fit
in the overall scheme of thoroughly introducing Lean.
Lean Manufacturing always worksregardless of the type of operation,
the products produced, and equipment and facilities involvedif a solid set
of good introductory principles are followed and a clear path to implementation is established. However, getting a portion of the way there and becoming
bogged down can actually do more harm than good. How? By inadvertently
creating a hybrid system of production that utilizes a combination of both
batch and Lean procedures. This will almost always guarantee a reasonably
high level of workforce confusion, if not some seriously strong frustration.
A good reference to keep in mind is the F alliance outlined in Chapter 2
(Figure2.2), which points out the four elements involved in penetrating to the
core of Lean implementation. As noted, there must be focus on the mission,
faith in the process, the fortitude to fight opposition, and a dedication to seeing it through to a full and successful finish. The overriding factor involved is
to strive to keep Lean thinking in mind as one goes about performing normal duties and responsibilities. For a few of the more important players in
the process, the following words of wisdom are provided.

For the Plant Manager


Stay positive about Lean! There will be times when conditions will apply
stress, whether seeking Lean implementation or not. Its the nature of the
beast of manufacturing. But always keep in mind that although stressful
feelings can do no harm, how you react to them can. Make a point to occasionally tour the factory with Lean in mind. Talk to operators, floor supervisors, and others about the process and strive to find out what can be done
to help advance Lean plantwide. Keep faith that the process will steer things
on the correct path, even when it isnt easy to see light at the end of the
tunnel. But never be fully satisfied with progress. Strive to keep the attention level high for a march to manufacturing excellence and most important,
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

164 Progressive Kaizen

dont allow Lean to become bogged down by the problems and issues
inherent in an old, inefficient, and obsolete system of production. As the old
saying goes, Keep your hand on the throttle and your eye on the rail.

For the Lean Coordinator


Make certain that some level of Kaizen activity is going on in the factory
each and every week. Furthermore, make a quick tour at least twice weekly
to see for yourself if changes made in support of Lean remain fully intact.
Where any slippage takes place, talk to the floor supervisor and strive to
get it corrected as quickly as possible. Where there is any lack of support in
getting things back in order, dont hesitate to bring it to the plant managers
attention and request his support in fully correcting the situation. Keep a
close eye on the Kaizen master plan and where it becomes evident that
progress is falling short of that plan, immediately address the matter with the
powers above and work to steer things back on course.

For the Production Manager


As the production manager, its important to keep Lean in mind when
addressing problems and production issues that arise. Instead of the old way
of addressing problems, look for ways where SMED, Poka-Yoke, Workplace
Organization, and the like can be used to correct the situation. For example,
would holding a special problem resolution event be helpful in addressing
and resolving a nagging production issue? Work to keep the attention level
on Lean high on your list of priorities and use every opportunity you can in
encouraging the use of Lean practices.

For the Shop Floor Supervisor


Call on the production manager, the Lean coordinator, the production engineer assigned to the area, and others as needed, in helping your people
(those that report to you) implement change in keeping with good Lean
principles. Be the first to request a training and implementation Kaizen event
in your area of responsibility, as soon as it can be scheduled. Expressing
an interest in doing so will help in establishing priorities for a Lean effort,
because having a supervisor who calls for the introduction of the process
always weighs heavily on when and where an event will be scheduled and
conducted. If and when a WRAP initiative is undertaken by the company,
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

Other Key Facets of Getting the Most Out of Kaizen 165

strive to be one of the first to work with operators in making acceptable


improvements. Set goals for operator participation in WRAP and work to see
they are successfully achieved. Remember, your principal objective should
be to motivate participation and help operators achieve improvements.

For the Production Engineer


Make a practice of performing your assigned sustaining duties by always
keeping Lean in mind. This will help in constructing operating methods and
routing procedures that do not inadvertently become a hindrance to Lean
implementation. Also keep that in mind when planning and procuring new
equipment. Construct a Lean equipment checklist (as spelled out in Chapter
4, under Modifying the Rules for the Purchase of New Equipment) and see
that this is duly applied. Lend as much assistance as possible in supporting
a WRAP initiative and seek out areas where your help and influence can be
utilized in making it a full success. Remain aware that Lean engineering
key equipment is essential to a good Lean Manufacturing effort and apply all
the influence you can in establishing this as a high priority for production
engineering.

FACTOR TWO: Assigning Appropriate Talent


Regardless of the best intentions, the job of implementing Lean cannot be
successfully carried out without hiring or assigning the appropriate talent
to carry it forward. In most manufacturing firms that have been into conventional manufacturing for years, the type of talent needed can indeed
be developed with appropriate training and guidance. However, doing this
can also be a time-consuming process and it is good to remember that
time really isnt on your side. The best approach is a combination of new
and experienced talent, along with existing personnel who can be properly
trained, guided, and motivated as needed. The most obvious position for the
selection of new talent is the person holding the role of Lean coordinator.
However, there are other positions that should not be overlooked in striving
for a successful Lean venture, which include:
1. The factorys production manager
2. The maintenance manager or supervisor
3. The production engineering function, as a whole
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

166 Progressive Kaizen

A Bit More about the Production Manager Position


The actual title for this position varies from company to company, but the
production manager is the individual commonly in charge of meeting the
factorys established production schedules and directing the activities of
the production workforce. In keeping with this, all shop floor supervisors
normally report to the production manager. It is a highly important job
and requires strong leadership ability, one that a company cannot afford to
assume will be supportive of Lean and doing all the position can to advance
implementation. Its important to remember that most production managers, who have long worked under a conventional system of production, have
batch manufacturing deeply embedded in their thinking. Even after training,
some of them find it extremely difficult to buy fully into the process.
RELATED EXPERIENCE: I was hired by a family-owned business to
help lead the introduction of Lean in a factory that had been into batch
manufacturing for over 40 years. Part of the task was to provide advice
on properly organizing for the effort. We started with a high-impact
event in the final assembly and shipping area of the factory. The first
warning sign came when the production manager proceeded to convince senior management that because a number of his key supervisors
were required to attend the event, it was vital that he didnt participate
and look after things to see that production schedules were fully
achieved.
I immediately approached the owner of the business to strive to convince him it was vital to the success of the event to have the production
manager as a participant and asked if there wasnt some way to free
him up for the effort. I went as far as committing to work at reshuffling
the training into a six-hour daily schedule for the first week, in order to
free the production manager up for the first two hours of the day, so he
could look after things, as he put it.
Senior management went along with the suggestion and everything
proceeded as planned. As the event progressed, it became increasingly
apparent the production manager had no real interest in being there
and held a tremendous amount of doubt about the process being outlined. He grew increasingly late in getting back to class after scheduled
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

Other Key Facets of Getting the Most Out of Kaizen 167

breaks and lunch periods. On the fourth day of the event he failed to
return to class following the afternoon break. When I approached him
late that afternoon he told me an emergency had arisen that required
his attention. When I went as far as inquiring what the emergency was,
he became extremely defensive and unleashed his frustrations in a
storm of anger about the entire event and the impact it was having on
his doing his job.
After he cooled down and not so sincerely apologized for the outburst,
I told him the important thing was for him to decide if he could live
with the kind of change wed been discussing, because I had little
doubt management fully intended to take the process forward. He gave
me a very sober expression and said, Frankly, Im not sure the company intends to take it as far as you think.
Being a relatively headstrong individual myself, my first reaction was to
take the matter to senior management and see if they couldnt somehow put the production manager on the right path. I decided, however,
that taking that step could create more distraction than striving to live
with his frustrations and allowing the power of the process to convince
him, knowing it was going to require some added effort on my part to
deal with the situation.
I was correct about the added effort, but the changes the team set
out to accomplish were made. After the event concluded and the
march for further implementation of the process began in earnest,
the production manager became a persistent stumbling block, even
as it became increasingly evident the changes being made were
clearly to the benefit of the factory. Four months into the process,
company management decided to bite the bullet and removed him
from his job, giving him a role in scheduling. Two months later the
man left to take a position as production manager for a factory that
used a conventional batch manufacturing approach and had apparently indicated it had no immediate plans to change its system of
production.

2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

168 Progressive Kaizen

I wish the story had a happier ending, that I had somehow been able to
convince him with just the right words and hed gone on to make a remarkable turnaround. The truth, however, is that it seldom happens when it
comes to managers who are solidly sold on the belief there isnt a better way
than what theyve been successful with (in their own mind) for years on
end. They are not bad employees. In fact, most are extremely conscientious
people who are simply misguided. They fail to see that the old way of doing
things doesnt fit with what it takes to stay competitive in the future. This
feeling is usually elevated by the fact that theyve been praised and patted
on the back for years. Accordingly, frustration and resentment can often start
to set in when they suddenly hear what theyve been doing simply doesnt
meet the needs of the future.
Strongly embedded paradigms and their potential influence are two of
the chief unknowns attached to getting Lean off to a sound start, but its
something every company will be forced to deal with eventually. Had management taken the time to have a serious discussion with the production
manager about where it intended to take Lean and the role he needed to
assume in fully supporting the effort, its likely it would have been obvious
he really wasnt the man for the job. A company can always strive to bring
the person along with proper training and motivation, but in some cases this
will only serve to delay the inevitable and can potentially create a seriously
negative influence that really isnt necessary.
I firmly believe every effort should be made to avoid replacing someone
who has given an operation many years of service. On the other hand, there
is a time and place to take strong organizational action and this is especially
true when venturing into Lean. A company has to have a group of managers
and key players who express energetic support for the effort, because the
change conducted centers on a massive restructuring of a companys way of
doing business and comes to affect almost everything and everyone.
Bottom line, the worst assumption a company can make is holding the
belief that every important player involved will meet the need adjustment
required for Lean, given an understanding of the task. Experience has
shown this simply isnt the case.
As far as any rule goes that applies to this matter, it would be: obtain a
feel for how key personnel will indeed adjust to support the effort. Take
nothing for granted and dont hesitate to make a change organizationally
if its evident theres a key player involved who is potentially going to pose
some major difficulty with the process. This isnt always an easy or comfortable thing to do, but its something that cant be overlooked in importance.
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

Other Key Facets of Getting the Most Out of Kaizen 169

FACTOR THREE: Doing the Planning


Required to Put ALIP in Place
ALIP again is an Advanced Lean Implementation Process consisting
of three working elements: Progressive Kaizen, the four guiding principles of Waste-Free Manufacturing, and the insertion of WRAP (Waste
Reduction Activity Process). These work together to establish the fastest
and most effective application of Lean Manufacturing in a facility. Can
one get there without applying one or more of them? Perhaps, but the
journey will be longer and the path more problematic. There are situations where Lean has been successfully introduced without using the
process outlined for ALIP, but in most cases it came about due to some
very unique circumstances:
1. The company had an adequate, experienced engineering staff and others who were assigned the responsibility of applying Lean principles
(i.e., laying out equipment and flow, upgrading work stations, etc.)
independent of any input of the operators involved or other influences.
In most cases, however, this was done in conjunction with starting up a
new factory, quite often on foreign soil.
2. The company hired a plant manager who was highly skilled in implementing Lean and provided the position with the authority to make the
kind of change needed with no major restrictions. The basic job outlined was simply: make it happen.
Most factories with an interest in Lean do not have such conditions on
which to rely. Lean becomes something they must implement to the best
extent possible with what they have to work with, and they have to do so
while operating under the parameters of the old system of production. This
requires good planning, a very good strategy for implementation, and bringing along the workforce as the effort proceeds.

FACTOR FOUR: Applying Strong and Effective Communications


This step starts with a well-constructed message to the entire workforce
spelling out the change needed and how it will be pursued. Employees
should know the change will come to oppose the way theyve been taught
to do things in the past, but for the most part will serve to make their jobs
easier and more productive.
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

170 Progressive Kaizen

Communications relative to the process of change have to be continued on


a frequent basis, at least initially. To a large extent it is essentially a selling
job on the front end. As time goes by, it turns into a matter of providing more
specific direction and encouraging steady participation. But looking at it in
any manner, good persistent communications are essential to making Kaizen
all it can be.

FACTOR FIVE: Demonstrating the Process


The first high-impact Kaizen event sets the stage for where the plant is
headed and provides the workforce with a snapshot of how the plant will
come to look and operate. I sincerely believe it is a demonstration that must
absolutely occur if any solid progress with Lean is expected to be made. If
done right it sets the perfect example, an example anyone can look at to get
a good idea of what Lean is all about and whats coming down the road.
This, of course, requires ensuring that the changes made remain intact and
are built upon as time goes by.

Phase Two: Completing the Mission


FACTOR SIX: Training the Production Workforce
At this point things should be in place to begin a seriously active training program for the production workforce. This should include training
and implementation, along with problem resolution, and sustaining Kaizen
events and associated activities, and should be carried on without any serious disruptions until the entire production workforce has had hands-on
exposure.

FACTOR SEVEN: Driving Good Lean


Practices into Office Processes
This can begin as soon as the Lean coordinator has help in both teaching
and coordinating overall activities. The Lean coordinator will have his hands
full with the manufacturing shop floor. Any effort to drive Kaizen into the
office arena likely will not happen until the Lean coordinator has a qualified
assistant who holds Office Kaizen or Business Process Kaizen as a chief
responsibility.
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

Other Key Facets of Getting the Most Out of Kaizen 171

FACTOR EIGHT: Advancing Improvements


at an Individual Job Level
As noted, WRAP establishes an incentive for making Kaizen-related
improvements at an individual job level. There are some who would argue
an incentive should not be offered for something employees should normally
be doing as a matter of practice. To that I can only say there is nothing normal about Lean. Its a process that calls for doing things very differently and
most employees will not extend themselves to see that change is made without a serious motivator. If management truly feels it can be that motivator
by simply instructing employees to participate and by the nature of doing so
can get the kind of results needed without offering a monetary award, they
should forget about WRAP and move on. However, under normal circumstances WRAP or something similar is needed.

FACTOR NINE: Applying Lean-Oriented


Vendor Certification Standards
Vendor certification standards in support of Lean were briefly addressed earlier in this chapter. Again, the idea is to develop and apply things, in support
of Lean, to a companys standard vendor certification process. If one isnt in
place, start one in support of Lean. There isnt much that is very complicated
about it. Work to have select suppliers certified to deliver parts and components directly to point of use, without going through a receiving and inspection process. As time goes by, work to have more and more vendors obtain
this capability and focus on eliminating the cost of incoming, receiving, and
inspection. This may never be 100% realized, but the cost associated with
receiving and inspection (which is classified under most circumstances as an
essential nonvalue waste) can be driven down substantially. Certified Lean
suppliers would also work to deliver parts in special containers designed to
reduce handling and potential damage, as needed, among other things associated with good Lean practices.

FACTOR TEN: Focusing on Continuous Improvement


Continuous improvement starts the moment the first Lean application is put
in place in a factory, and never ends. However, it is after an operation has
made a substantial shift to Lean across the entire factory and in the office
arena that a renewed effort should be placed on making aggressive, ongoing
improvements. That is precisely where Toyota stands today, making strong
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

172 Progressive Kaizen

aggressive improvements to a system of production that would be the envy


of most manufacturing operations.

A Final Word
After 25 years in manufacturing and having the privilege of working with
countless manufacturing firms in the United States and around much of the
world, I have nothing but the utmost respect for the men and women who
devote the time, energy, and dedication to providing something of value that
serves the needs of others. They are truly pioneers.
I say that because although untold production processes and concepts
have been extended their way over the years, starting on a dirt floor in
Henry Fords first attempt to bring an affordable automobile to Americas
citizens, it has been the men and women of manufacturing who have
put those ideas into action and made them a reality. Manufacturing leaders owe these men and women the best of their knowledge and ability
because America truly needs a strong manufacturing base and the power
and influence it can extend in keeping our country a great and vibrant
economy.
Lean Manufacturing offers what could be the last good chance at
achieving and maintaining that end. Thus, every effort possible should
be extended in making it happen in an effective manner. Following the
correct path, its indeed something thats achievable in any factory.
Something stated in the opening should be repeated in conclusion.
Kaizen isnt limited to the single purpose of making small continuous improvements. Used in the correct manner, it can serve as the chief
mechanism in fully inserting Lean Manufacturing throughout an entire
business enterprise.

Key Summary Points


Although it isnt something most businesses would desire, the work
performed on standard shelf-item equipment could be outsourced if the
need arose. That simply isnt the case with Class II and Class III production equipment. These are essentially the lifeline of the business and if
and when they fail to operate as intendedor fail to operate at alla
business is in serious jeopardy.
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

Other Key Facets of Getting the Most Out of Kaizen 173

The LE (Lean Equipment) specialist effectively owns the performance of


the equipment and holds an above-average responsibility to ensure what
comes off that equipment fits the needs of the next user in the process.
One of the best ways of ensuring an appropriate level of attention on the
implementation of Lean is an annual structured audit. Performing this
encompasses every aspect of the Lean process, from training the workforce to implemented changes on the shop floor, along with the overall
progress achieved against an established and approved master plan.
Most important to a Lean initiative is for the vendor to reach and maintain a quality status where parts can be delivered directly to the point
of use, in the exact quantities specified. In most cases this will not happen with initial certification practices and requires a special effort on
the part of both the customer and the supplier.
Maintenance is the single support function in a factory that holds the
power to make or break a Lean initiative. Therefore, making certain
the maintenance function is both fully capable and properly aligned is
absolutely critical to a good Lean Manufacturing effort, especially one
that strongly utilizes Kaizen as the tool for advancing the process.
The step charts outlined in Chapter 2 and further illustrated in
Figure2.4 provide a roadmap for implementing Lean from start to finish. Many factories in the United States, however, arent at the point of
starting from scratch. They are at various stages of implementation. The
step charts therefore have to be used in adjusting strategy and tactics
in order to achieve a full and effective change to the system of production. Figures5.2 and 5.3 provide a first and second phase illustration of
the 10 most important factors to keep in mind, regardless of a factorys
starting point with Lean.

2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

Appendix A:
Recommended Reading
*Key Reference Material
*Fast Track to Waste-Free Manufacturing, John W. Davis, Productivity Press, 1999.
*Lean Manufacturing; Implementation Strategies that Work, John W. Davis,
Industrial Press, 2009.
Kanban Just-In-Time at Toyota, edited by Japan Management Association, translated by David J. Lu.
Poka-Yoke: Improving Quality by Preventing Defects, edited by NKS/Factory
Magazine, overview by Hiroyuki Hirano [over 240 illustrated examples].
Zero Quality Control: Source Inspection and the Poka-Yoke System, Shigeo Shingo.
Quick Changeover for Operators: The SMED System, adapted from Shigeo Shingos
A Revolution in Manufacturing, Productivity Press.
Kaizen and the Art of Creative Thinking (adapted from Shigeo Shingos Idea, Wo
Nigasuna), Tracy S. Epley.
Toyota Production System, Beyond Large Scale Production, Taiichi Ohno.
The Idea Generator: Quick and Easy Kaizen, Bunji Tozawa and Norman Bodek.
Going Lean: How the Best Companies Apply Lean Manufacturing, Stephen A. Ruffa.

2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

175

Appendix B: How to
Obtain Direct Assistance
with the Process
For those feeling direct assistance is needed with the process outlined,
World Competition Consultants (WCC) has a fully qualified resource base
capable of meeting a factorys initial counseling and training needs. The
services include:
Plant Management Overview: A one-day working session designed to
provide plant management and staff with an overview of the outlined
process and how it can most effectively be applied, considering the current status of Lean within the company or factory involved. This service
is provided free of charge with the exception of travel-related expenses.
Lean Coordinator Training: A two-day training seminar for the Lean
coordinator or a number of company or corporate Lean coordinators, designed to provide direction in the use of ALIP (Advanced
Lean Implementation Process) and explain the logic and purpose of
Progressive Kaizen. Included are how to go about developing a master
implementation plan, and when and how to both use and perform the
various types of Kaizen outlined.
Production Engineering and Shop Floor Supervisor Training: A threeday training session designed to provide production engineers and shop
floor supervisors with knowledge in Progressive Kaizen, along with the
skills needed in fully engineering a plants key production equipment.
Included is an advanced level of training in SMED, Poka-Yoke, and
TPM, along with an in-depth explanation of the four guiding principles
of Waste-Free Manufacturing.
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

177

178 Appendix B: How to Obtain Direct Assistance with the Process

High-Impact Kaizen Event: A one- to two-week extensive Kaizen event


aimed at making sweeping change to a given area of the factory and
establishing a showcase that is fully representative of the type of
change that will be required for the entire factory over the course of
fully implementing a Lean Manufacturing initiative. Included is a free of
charge pre-event visit to work with management in establishing which
area of the factory would be the most ideal for the event, which support functions should have representative participants, how maintenance
should be prepared to respond, and what the expected results should be.
Training and Implementation Kaizen Event: A three-day Kaizen event
aimed at training a select group of hourly and salaried participants in
Lean Manufacturing. Half of the event is classroom training with the
other half aimed at applying a portion of the training on the shop floor.
Typically the magnitude of change centers on applying workplace organization, which utilizes the 6-Cs (clear, confine, control, clean, communicate, continue).
Problem Resolution and Sustaining Kaizen Events: A three-day training seminar for factory managers, shop floor supervisors, and select
hourly and salaried personnel, in how to go about identifying the
root cause of recurring production problems and put a permanent
fix in place. In addition, guidance and direction are given in how to
use sustaining Kaizen, along with how to conduct an SK event: who
should be involved, what the training should focus on, and how to
measure results.
To obtain assistance or for further information regarding direct assistance
in establishing and running a highly results-oriented ALIP and Progressive
Kaizen process as outlined:
Email: wfmassociates@aol.com
Telephone: 1-501-884-4862

2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

Glossary: Definitions of
Frequently Used Terms
Advanced Lean Implementation Process (ALIP): An all encompassing
improvement concept for fully and effectively implementing Lean
Manufacturing, made up of three major components: Progressive
Kaizen, Waste-Free Manufacturing, and WRAP (Waste Reduction
Activity Process).
Conventional Manufacturing: The system of production that grew out of
the Henry Ford era and became the standard for U.S. industry after
World War II. Built on the driving fundamentals of batch manufacturing techniques, the system endorses the principles of build and
queue production and is supported by performance measurements
and information systems that serve to perpetuate the process.
Error-Free Processing: One of the four guiding principles of Waste-Free
Manufacturing, which utilizes Poka-Yoke (mistake proofing) and
5-W (the five whys) as primary tools for establishing root cause and
engineering special devices aimed at source inspection and the correction of potential errors in processing.
High-Impact Kaizen: The first of the four components of Progressive
Kaizen, High-Impact Kaizen is a structured activity aimed at training
managers, along with a select number of hourly and salaried associates, in Lean Manufacturing principles and techniques. Through
a combination of extensive classroom training and the application
of hands-on waste reduction activity (Kaizen), participants make
sweeping change to a prescribed area of the factory, with the intent
of establishing a showcase area that is representative of the type
of production system intended for implementation across the entire
factory.
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

179

180 Glossary: Definitions of Frequently Used Terms

Insignificant Changeover: One of the four guiding principles of WasteFree Manufacturing, aimed at reducing setup and changeover to the
point of becoming insignificant to the decision-making process,
involving such things as taking on added business, revamping production schedules to satisfy customer needs, and the like.
Kaizen: A Japanese term for a process aimed at making continuous
improvement, by focusing on and eliminating wastes inherent to
the manufacturing practices being employed. As outlined in this
work, the practice of Kaizen is expanded in functional application
to become the chief mechanism for advancing the insertion of Lean
Manufacturing.
Kaizen Event: A structured exercise consisting of a select group of managers, supervisors, and hourly and salaried associates aimed at providing classroom training in Lean Manufacturing, along with the
opportunity for participants to make hands-on change on the shop
floor or the office arena, utilizing the tools of the Toyota Production
System.
Lean Manufacturing: A widespread term for a manufacturing approach
that utilizes the tools and concepts of the Toyota Production System,
along with a variety of other improvement techniques such as value
stream mapping and Six Sigma applications, all of which are aimed
at eliminating wastes, improving flexibility, and better servicing the
customer.
Poka-Yoke: A Japanese term for a process aimed at error-proofing production operations, derived from Poka (mistakes) and Yokeru (avoid).
As a science, Poka-Yoke is designed to control quality at the point of
application. As applied in progressive Kaizen, Poka-Yoke is a major
component of error-free processing.
Problem Resolution Kaizen: The third of the four components of
Progressive Kaizen. A structured process directed at establishing
the root cause of recurring production problems and/or issues, and
applying a permanent solution.
Progressive Kaizen: The coupling of all the various types of Kaizen
outlined, with a uniform approach to their use, along with a clearly
established plan of action and specific management initiatives that
actively serve to promote and advance the full insertion of Lean
Manufacturing.
Production/Sustaining Engineers: College graduates in manufacturing
engineering, industrial engineering, or industrial technology, assigned
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

Glossary: Definitions of Frequently Used Terms 181

the job of sustaining a factory from the standpoint of equipment


design and procurement, shop floor methods, direct labor standards,
and other critical production support activities.
SMED: A term meaning Single Minute Exchange of Dies. SMED is aimed
at the science of reducing setup and changeover on equipment or
processing to single minutes (nine minutes or less) by examining
and breaking down the work involved into internal and external
components and designing methods that allow much of the preparatory work to be performed prior to the time a setup is conducted. As
applied in Progressive Kaizen, SMED is a component of the principle
of insignificant changeover.
Sustaining Kaizen: The fourth of the four components of Progressive
Kaizen; sustaining Kaizen is a process consisting of both formal and
informal waste reduction activity, aimed at enhancing previous waste
reduction efforts and providing employees a means of making individual job improvements.
System of Production: The policies, procedures, and practices employed
to manufacture parts, components, and finished units, along with the
prescribed assistance of various support functions and related business information systems.
Total Productive Maintenance (TPM): TPM is a process designed to
extend the typical aspects of preventative maintenance to strongly
include operators who work in conjunction with the maintenance
department with machine upkeep, performing such tasks as the lubrication of equipment and special equipment inspection, on a planned
frequency basis. In practice, TPM is a special partnering of the operator, floor supervision and the maintenance function in assuring a
plants production equipment receives the kind of oversight required
to keep it operating at an optimum level of performance.
Toyota Production System (TPS): A system of production principally
implemented under the direction of Taiichi Ohno and Shigeo Shingo,
aimed at eliminating manufacturing wastes, improving overall flexibility, greatly reducing inventory, and substantially lowering operating
costs.
Training and Implementation Kaizen (TI): The second of the four components of progressive Kaizen, training and implementation Kaizen
is directed at providing basic training in Lean Manufacturing for the
entire workforce over an extended period of time and providing participants the opportunity to apply a portion of what theyve learned
2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

182 Glossary: Definitions of Frequently Used Terms

in a given production area of the factory. Due to the short duration of


the event, changes made by the group principally center on workplace organization.
Uninterrupted Flow: One of the four guiding principles of waste-free
manufacturing, pursuant to point-of-use, one-piece flow, Kanban, and
other applications that serve to eliminate stoppage and storage points
in flow.
Waste-Free Manufacturing: An all-encompassing Lean Manufacturing
initiative spelled out in my book, Fast Track to Waste-Free
Manufacturing, which utilizes the tools of the Toyota Production
System, under the guiding influence of the principles: workplace
organization, uninterrupted flow, error-free processing, and insignificant changeover.
Waste Reduction Activity Process (WRAP): A management initiative
that provides a prescribed incentive (bonus) for Lean-related improvements made at an individual job level. The intent is to keep the
attention level of the workforce focused on continuous improvement
and the elimination of wastes inherent to the job. Acceptable changes
come under the four guiding principles of waste-free manufacturing
(workplace organization, uninterrupted flow, insignificant changeover,
and error-free processing).
Workplace Organization: One of the four guiding principles of WasteFree Manufacturing, described as the foundation of all continuous
improvement. Workplace organization involves setting up an operator-friendly workplace and utilizing the 6-Cs as the primary tool in
structuring change (clear, confine, control, clean, communicate, continue). Upon application, the workplace has extensive visual controls
built in that greatly reduce the chance of downtime and production
errors, along with better ensuring quality workmanship.

2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

Business Management
All Kaizen is not one and the same. There are four distinctly different types, each
with its own purpose and results. Companies that understand these differences
harness Kaizens ultimate power and influence and achieve amazing success in a
global manufacturing environment. Companies must, however, restructure the major
objectives of certain key players in the process and institute various management
initiatives that drive Kaizen down to an individual job level.
Written by recognized Lean Manufacturing professional John W. Davis, Progressive
Kaizen: The Key to Gaining a Global Competitive Advantage explains the four
distinct types of Kaizen and the particular purpose of each. Davis clearly elucidates
how to exploit Kaizen events and points out why and how Kaizen should be used as
a prominent strategy in implementing Lean. This includes developing a structured
plan for Kaizen and giving strong consideration to the insertion of a Waste Reduction
Activity Process (WRAP), which provides employee incentives for implemented
improvements at an individual job level. It outlines how to conduct each type of
Kaizen event, who to involve, and what the results should be.
Although the benefits of Lean Manufacturing and the tools of the Toyota Production
System have been documented many times, a need exists to understand how to
put it all together and fully implement the process in the most effective and least
disruptive manner. Progressive Kaizen spells out how to get the utmost from the
process of Kaizen and make it a formidable competitive weapon.

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